Sunday, August 2, 2009

Motor oil ain't indulgent!

There's a new Starbucks near my house on Rt. 4 just west of the George Washington Bridge. They've got a sign out front advertising the fact that they are open 24 hours / day and that they have drive-thru service.

Great. I'm sure that's convenient for lots of folks.

But Starbucks isn't about convenience. Not that they are about inconvenience, but they are not a convenience store.

Starbucks is an indulgence. It's an experience that goes beyond the coffee. Or at least that is what propelled its growth for so long. Before they lost their way and found out what happens to brands that lose their way.

Starbucks has always been about re-creating that Italian coffee experience in a way that American consumers could enjoy. It's the third place away from home and office where you can enjoy seeing your coffee made and even sit down to enjoy the beverage with some measure of tranquility.

What about 24 hour drive-thru tells you this will be an indulgent experience? 24 hour drive-thru is for fuel. Actual fuel or oil for your car. Or just crappy junk food like Twinkies that you pick up at the little store at the rest stop to fuel your road trip.

24 hour drive-thru does not at all fit the Starbucks brand. If this is how they choose to compete, they will have their ass handed to them by McDonald's.

Instead, they need to stick to their mission. And if they need to grow and have an opportunity to acquire valuable real estate on key highways, go ahead and start a new brand that's all about convenience with high quality. You cannot be all things to all people.

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