When Starbucks first started out, a $4 coffee was virtually unheard of. However, as Bryant Simon observes in Everything but the Coffee and on his Red Room blog, $4 at Starbucks went farther than just a morning wake-up—it bought admission into an elite world. There, you were not just another lowly worker who needed a boost to get through the day. Instead, reflected in the glass of the pastry case was a person interested the arts, global issues, and the environment, a cultured person of values and standards—and carrying a Starbucks cup broadcast this to the world. Suddenly our coffee said something about us, and who wants to be a lonely single espresso when you can be a tall extra-hot flavorful macchiatto? People bought the idea—and the coffee, and Starbucks soon popped up around the globe. Simon finds that, far beyond building brand loyalty, Starbucks reached into the hearts and souls of its customers to build emotional and social bonds with them, and fulfilled deep unmet needs for community, status, and identity. Simon also explores how Starbucks’ popularity contributed to its decline in cultural cachet, and how it is working to reclaim its status and meet the needs of a new generation of consumers. Continue the conversation with Bryant Simon on his Red Room blog.
Bryant Simon on Coffee Culture
July 17, 2009