I’m currently sitting at Starbucks, which is not a very inspirational experience in and of itself. Yet, somehow as I sit here I’m finding that my mind has become overtaken by a rather wide assortment of musings. So without further ado- a collection of varied thoughts, inspired by my neighborhood Starbucks.
- Familiarity: It’s interesting how comforting it is when someone recognizes you at one of your favorite businesses. I don’t frequent anywhere often enough for the store employees to know my “usual,” but I think a lot of Starbucks customers take great pride in their orders and like it when baristas immediately know what to make them. I just saw the barista rattle off someone’s order from the size of the cup down to the extra dose of whip, and the customer’s smile was impressively big. I can’t even think of the last time I saw a customer with such a big smile, anywhere.
- Exclusivity: Starbucks recently entered into a deal to sell a local bakery’s products instead of their usual baked goods. I can’t decide how I feel about this. It completely weirds me out to see a sign advertising that bakery’s muffins and croissants- it just seems so out of place here. At a place like Dean and Deluca, I expect to see an assortment of products from other businesses, but at Starbucks I expect anonymous pastries. Will this change over time if Starbucks starts to introduce more branded products? To be determined, I suppose.
- Product associations: Tis the season for pumpkin spice everything. And while I am a huge fan of pumpkin myself, that didn’t actually kick in until I went to college in a state that had fall and winter. Because where I grew up sure didn’t, and as a result we also didn’t have things that were immediately associated to cold weather. I carved pumpkins, but in 80 degree weather. And it’s funny to see signs pop up advertising “fall favorites” in places where fall doesn’t really happen, or fall doesn’t necessarily mean the things it would mean in other parts of the country. It’s sort of a false association in my opinion- there is no more reason to sell pumpkin drinks in Arizona in the winter than there is in the summer, except for distanced associations.
- Secret languages: There is a whole linguistic code related to ordering at Starbucks. I witnessed a first-timer try to order, and she was visibly overwhelmed by the product names, add on options, etc. I don’t actually think ordering coffee is that complex of a task, but I could see why it’s hard to decipher the Starbucks menu if you’re not in the know. She did tip the employee who helped her, which I thought was a nice gesture.
- The masses: I’ve noticed this before, and am noticing it again. The mix of people who go to Starbucks is rather astounding. I realize of course that not EVERYONE goes to Starbucks, but still find it pretty impressive how varied the clientele tends to be. I would love to get my hands on their customer data and do a study that correlates customers to the drinks they order and the way they experience the store. Starbucks, you hear that? I’m waiting for my call…
And… scene. Til next time, dear readers.