Thursday, June 08, 2006

class war in a coffee cup

Buzzed Fly
Originally uploaded by jessiqua.
A Burger King ad depicts a construction worker, clad in work boots and helmet, chugging the recently introduced BK Joe. Even the in-store promotions at Burger King are defiantly anti-Starbucks: one display in Burger King reads, “Comes in three easy-to-say sizes” (Large, medium and small).
. . .

Mr. Gilbert [VP of Marketing for Dunkin’ Donuts] acknowledged the superior look of the Starbucks stores, many complete with plush couches, blond-wood café tables and soothing jazz piped through the speakers. But that is not what the “hard-working” Dunkin’ customer wants, he said: “Our customers have stuff they got to do, and most of what they want to do is not taking place in our stores.”
From This Joe’s For You in this morning’s New York Times.

The commodity that is coffee astonishes me. A few years back I did a project for the Seattle Coffee Company (before they were acquired by Starbuck's) and encountered the statistic that coffee is the second largest commodity in the world after oil. (Hope I'm remembering that right.) According to today's piece in the NYT, revenue associated with the coffee trade was up 16% in 2005 over 2004.

[photo credit: jessiqua]


Derek Baird said...

Starbucks isn't just about the coffee. Sure, they try and have the best product they can, and I'm sure that coffee alone is what draws some people in the doors.

But in the end, Starbucks is about community. They have designed their stores to facilitate interaction between customers. You go to Starbucks, you hang out, you surf the web, or meet other people.

The employee's make an effort to know yer name, know yer drink. It's that "economy of attention" drug that keeps customers coming back.

So yeah, if you just want a "cup of joe" then BK or DD are fine. But if you're looking to connect with others (even when you want to be alone) then a place like Starbucks is a sure fit.

;-) db

p.s. i hate their coffee! i'm all about the tea!

suttonhoo said...

very true -- but they were slow to introduce comfy couches and tables and chairs -- early floorplans were more along the lines of the european café model -- move 'em through and get 'em out the door (you can still see this at the first Starbuck's storefront at the Pike Place Market in Seattle where maybe there are three stools and that's it) -- but they evolved over time.

and yes -- I totally agree -- food is the glue that helps community -- communion -- happen.

enyasi said...

Here here... I totally agree with Derek. I LOVE Starbucks. Yeah the coffee is just okay, but I go for my morning drink of.... good to be a member of a community (especially when they are caffeinated and acting civil)....with an extra shot of "I feel like the coolest sort of grown up, while I wait in one of these comfy chairs listening to good music"... topped with the barista remembered my name so "gosh darn it people like me..."

Sad I know, but as a New Englander with over thousands of Dunkin Donuts encounters, ordering a large coffee regular and silently chastising myself for ordering a donut, all in a florescent lighted- too bright store... may get me caffeinated but does nothing for my daily “I feel good about my life” quota...

Not that I have an opinion or anything... ;-)

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