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Starbucks Corporate Culture - Early Adopters

May 15, 2008
It was one of those days yesterday that makes me forget that 90 degree weather is right around the corner. Sunny and 75 with a great breeze, it was a fantastic day for a walk in the park with the family followed by a stop off at the local Starbucks. My Wife ordered her usual, iced coffee, I got my regular large coffee of the day, and a sample cup of what my daughter thinks is ice cream but in reality is just a dab of whipped cream.

We opted to sit outside since this was one of the few Starbucks in my area with outdoor seating, something to do with the local laws or something and while we were enjoying our refreshments and my daughter feeding the ants, the question dawned on me, am I raising a future paying drone (read customer) for the mother ship?

It's a well known fact that children have been coming out of the womb reaching for Oreos and McDonald's French fries for decades now. So I asked my Wife who could care less about my obsession with Starbucks what she thought, and I got the reaction I was after, she didn't think twice about it.

We are following lock step in doing the same thing our parents did. We are creating a lifetime consumer that will feed the green monster well into the 21st century. The more fufi fufi drinks they whip up on Utah Street, the more my kid will want them.

I live in a Philadelphia suburb that has four local colleges or universities within three miles of each other and on any given night most of the local Starbucks are packed with kids working on term papers or studying for exams. All the while they are unknowingly becoming faithful servants to the green hoard...God bless' em. This is another part of the 3rd Place puzzle that Howard could expand on.

You see, I have made thousands of visits to over 300 Starbucks locations in the past twenty years, and most if not all have had something to do with business. So, we have a resting place for the academia set to toil away, a mobile conference room for the business movers and shakers of the world, so I thought maybe, just maybe ,Starbucks needs to develop a store layout that is more kid friendly and really grab' em early. Design the stores to make it easier to get strollers in and out, more comfortable seating for moms, a "real" changing station in the restrooms, and kid specific seating.

While I'm spending their money on capital improvements, throw in something else for the kids to do besides that stupid little closed wire thing with the shapes that holds their attention for twelve seconds, that's right twelve seconds, I've timed it.

In other words, adopting a more family friendly store design could lock in the next generation of frappacino lovers while extracting the revenue needed for this "cradle to grave" expansion from mommy. So Howard, out with the breakfast sandwiches and in with the sandboxes and swing sets!
About the Author
Eric is a blogger who writes about the Starbucks Corporate Culture at TheDripp.com
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