Two Buck ‘Bucks
SOURCE: Associated Press article
Starbucks offers afternoon drink deal nationwide
Looking to bring more value-seeking consumers through its doors for a late afternoon caffeine fix, Starbucks Corp. said it will now offer its morning customers any iced grande beverage for $2 after 2 p.m.
The price is a big cut from the normal price of most grande-sized iced drinks. A grande iced latte, for example, costs about $4. To get the discount, customers must present a receipt from their morning Starbucks visit.
“I think we’ve kind of hit the nail on the head,” said Brad Stevens, vice president of customer relationship management. “It’s easy for baristas to implement and it’s easy for customers to understand.”
Sadly, this is yet another decision the company has made which has “… lead to the watering down of the Starbucks experience, and, what some might call the commoditization of our brand.” [SOURCE]
As marketers, we know PRICING TELLS A STORY. All high-priced products must deliver an interesting story to justify its higher price. On the other end, low-priced products settle for telling an uninteresting story, beyond simply getting goods on the cheap.
Reading in-between the lines I’m picking up on something even more alarming than the company’s decision to become a priced-to-sell retailer. I’m picking up on a cataclysmic shift in company culture.
Re-read the quote from Brad Stevens. He says the Two Buck ‘Bucks promotion “is easy” for employees to implement and for customers to understand. True. HOWEVER, the Starbucks we’ve come to appreciate developing a relationship with never did anything “easy.”
The Starbucks company culture has never been about doing things the easy way.
The easy way is to size drinks Small, Medium, Large, and Extra-Large.
The easy way is to roast coffee less for a mass appeal taste profile.
The easy way is to have lucy-goosey espresso making standards.
The easy way is to not offer part-time employees full benefits.
The easy way is to treat customers as just a transaction.
The easy way is to compete on low prices.
The hard way is to size drinks Short, Tall, Grande, and Venti.
The hard way is to roast coffee longer for a more polarizing taste profile.
The hard way is to have strict espresso making standards.
The hard way is to offer every employee full benefits.
The hard way is to have employees build relationships with customers.
The hard way is to compete on high prices.
If we wanted “easy,” we would have never interrupted our old daily ritual to make Starbucks part of our new daily ritual. If Starbucks had always done things the EASY WAY, they wouldn’t have changed the game for how to build an endearing and enduring brand.
As for the decision to compete on low prices to drive traffic in the afternoon daypart with Treat Receipts … I’m troubled by this. Just as I was troubled when the company experimented earlier this year with selling a One-Dollar Cup o’ Joe.