WHY STARBUCKS FAILS

WHY STARBUCKS FAILS post image

Imagine you owned a coffee-shop with a fantastic old wood-panelled ceiling which is by far the most noteworthy feature of your shop. Everything else is pretty generic but this is truly magnificent. If it was your shop I reckon you would know about the stories behind the ceiling – who made it, for who and the rich history of your coffee-shop.You’d show pride as you tell the stories and engage your customers as they stare up and marvel at its intricacies.

Yesterday in Starbucks on Vigo Street in London I walked in and couldn’t believe what I saw above my head. I asked the barista about it with wide-eyed wonder – the response a sullen, “I don’t know about that.”

What Starbucks failed to do yesterday was create local pride and a sense of ownership in their team. This makes the experience feel much more like McDonalds – all standards and no personality – than a truly great local coffee shop which I think is what they are trying to aspire to as a brand. A quick Google search shows that this ceiling has been the subject of a few consumer conversations – see a much better picture on Flickr.

In most cases brands are planned and developed centrally but they are always experienced locally. Bridging that gap is the challenge and that’s less to do with standards (which are no doubt important) and more to do with the passion of the people delivering. Celebrating the distinctive and local is a great way to engage around authentic experiences rather than what is in the brand manual.

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Justin

Mail me: justin@basini.com
My website & the RE:Thinking Marketing & Brands blog:http://www.basini.com/
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{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Jenny Shaw-Sweet February 17, 2011, 2:31 pm

    this connects with some awesome advice from an old boss of mine… when you get on a plane, always turn left (I wish) and when you walk around a city, always look up.
    I found some information on Vigo Street, it sounds like its been the site of some cool architectural development in the 1800s, (hence your ceiling) also twas the last site for a duel with swords… which is just brilliant… see below, I love the concept of bachelor appartments with extensive provision at he back… probably for the C19th equivalent of a Ferrari. Henry Holland (not the modern fashion designer, the long-demised architect) seems to have been a bit of a one for a good ceiling…

    This is from ‘the history of Vigo St’.
    1772 – JOHN LANE. The Bodley Head, Vigo Street, W. LAST DUEL WITH SWORDS IN ENGLAND. It is generally supposed that Sheridan and Capt. Matthews fought the last duel with swords in England. This was in 1772. Long before that time, however, the …JOHN LANE. The Bodley Head, Vigo Street, W. LAST DUEL WITH SWORDS IN ENGLAND. It is generally supposed that Sheridan and Capt. Matthews fought the last duel with swords in England. This was in 1772. Long before that time, however, the pistol had become the favourite weapon of the duellist.
    From Full text of “Notes and queries” – http://www.archive.org/stream

    1804 – In 1804 the remodelling of the Albany in Piccadillv was entrusted to Holland, a work which embodied the conversion ot the mansion designed by Sir William Chambers into suites of bachelor apartments, with extensive additions at the back. The houses on either …This facade was some time after taken as a model by Francis Jobnston for the front of the Post Office in Sackvillc Street, Dublin. In 1804 the remodelling of the Albany in Piccadillv was entrusted to Holland, a work which embodied the conversion ot the mansion designed by Sir William Chambers into suites of bachelor apartments, with extensive additions at the back. The houses on either side of the entrance lodge in Vigo Street were erected by him at the same time.

    Reply
  • Mark, copywriter May 18, 2011, 4:19 pm

    I agree with you. All members of a business should be tasked with telling stories!

    Incidentally, isn’t it back-to-front that the employees with most frequent customer contact (in this case the barista) are often those with the lowest pay and lowest stakes?

    On that note, good to see you answering user queries in the Allow forum.

    Reply
  • john carver August 8, 2011, 11:28 pm

    Maybe the “barista” was more excited about the coffee he was making than the ceiling.
    Perhaps he wasn’t genuinely interested in the ceiling in any way and didn’t feel the need to be interested because he was being paid £6 an hour and felt he was doing enough simply by being there and serving people.BTW In Hastings the baristas at Cafe Nero greet new customers with the phrase “You alright mate?”.Do you think they’re trained to say this or did they think of it all by themselves?Personally I don’t think it matters that a barista has no knowledge or interest in the ceiling above their head.All I want is a smile and a cup of coffee that tastes nice.

    Reply

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