Blonde Ambition is Blind Ambition
The story that brought Howard Schultz to Starbucks is worthy of a Hollywood script.
It’s the story of an east coast salesman, Howard, traveling to the west coast to meet with a small company who is his biggest buyer of a coffee brewer. Howard becomes so enamored with the passion, authenticity, and flavor of the small company that he convinces the three founders to hire him. And the rest of the story is history as if it was written in Hollywood.
In his book, POUR YOUR HEART INTO IT, Howard retells the fateful story of his first sip of Starbucks coffee.
“I took a small, tentative sip. Whoa. I threw my head back, and my eyes shot wide open. Even from a single sip. I could tell it was stronger than any coffee I had ever tasted. . . . By the third sip, I was hooked. I felt I had discovered a whole new continent. By comparison, I realized the coffee I had been drinking was swill.”
Clearly, Howard was attracted to the unique, strong dark-roasted flavor of Starbucks coffee. The flavor was unlike anything Howard had ever tasted in a cup of coffee. It was love at first sip.
Fast forward to present day where Starbucks announced it’s introducing a very light roast, Starbucks Blonde, with a flavor profile similar to brewed coffee served at McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts.
Now, rewind to yesteryear where Howard had his first sip of Starbucks coffee. Suppose he was given the lightly roasted Willow Blend as his introduction to Starbucks. Would his reaction be the same? Would he throw his head back in disbelief of what coffee could taste like? Would he fall in love with Starbucks coffee?
The marketer in me says Howard wouldn’t react the same.
It’s unlikely for someone to fall in love with a product that purposely looks, smells, and tastes similar to what is widely available elsewhere. Being too similar doesn’t elicit love.
Being different. Being unique. Being bold. Being too dissimilar does elicit love.
Not everyone will love a product that is dissimilar. However, virtually no one will love a product that is too similar to what everyone else offers.