There they go again. Starbucks Corp. is on a mission to boost sales of glittery snow globes and other non-coffee items.
Been there, done that, and not very well.
I joined Starbucks in the mid-'90s, left to start my consultancy in the late ‘90s, but remain a committed believer in the brand and its core purpose. In other words, I am a faithful Starbuckian, whose duty it always will be to love the Company and to speak out when I think it is going astray.
Starbucks, to me, is a brand that should be emulated by anyone wanting to build a business the right way. But even the greatest companies get off coarse occasionally, and for Starbucks merchandise sales seems to be its recurring Achilles’ heel.
Without going into all the history, Starbucks core purpose is not about cookie trays, Christmas ornaments or warm and fuzzy “bearistas. " It is about the Third Place Experience and providing the best coffeehouse value in the world. Starbucks partners (employees) understand this and so do Starbucks loyal customers; nevertheless, executives, in an effort to add more profit, once again delude themselves into believing that merchandise that goes beyond the coffeehouse experience fits into the Company's core purpose. They have even hired a new Vice President to make it happen.
Once and for all, Christmas merchandise is not part of Starbucks core purpose and it does not enhance the Third Place Experience. In fact, it detracts from the experience. What it does do is clutter the floors with items we customers don't want. We become confused and frustrated by the merchandising of non-coffeehouse junk, which results in brand dilution. It makes us feel as if Starbucks is just another retailer trying to get into our pockets.
Why, Starbucks, do you do this? You are too good to fall victim to this wrongful thinking? For all our sakes, get back to your core purpose. Make us proud again.
Lewis Green is the Founder and Managing Principal of L&G Business Solutions, a managing consultancy focused on brand, marketing PR and sales. He is a former Starbucks partner (employee).
by Lewis Green