Why Starbucks branding remains undefeated

Even during social isolation, people still act like they don’t know how to make coffee

Image for post
Image for post
Photo credit: Andrea Piacquadio/Pexels

There are a few companies who remain undefeated when it comes to branding. They could stop doing commercials for the rest of the year and still sell their products. Look no further than the Starbucks craze. According to CNN, in the past few weeks, customers are buying Starbucks mugs, tumblers and cups from Poshmark and OfferUp. They’ve even gotten so desperate to have a bit of Starbucks culture in their day that they’ve invested in Starbucks coffee cup earrings and Pumpkin Spice Latte hair scrunchies.

Interestingly though, Fried Coffee reports that in a blind taste test, people preferred McDonald’s coffee over Starbucks’ blend. They want coffee, but this test challenged whether coffee drinkers really like the coffee that they think they do.

According to the National Coffee Association, in 2019, 64 percent of Americans drank coffee. Additionally, 79 percent of those people drinking coffee within the past day brewed coffee at home. And as much as Americans enjoy coffee, this country only ranks number 25 for top coffee-consuming countries.

So if American consumers know how to make coffee, have curious taste preferences and aren’t as fanatical about it as other countries, why do they insist on investing in Starbucks specifically? What is it about this chain that makes people crave everything from the drinks to the ponytail holders? It’s as if consumers have forgotten mugs and hair products can be purchased from dollar-value stores, and coffee is sold in essential retail stores.

Recommended Read: “Starbucks’ New Chicago Reserve Roastery Is a Coffee Break Worth the Wait

One could argue that McDonald’s doesn’t have the same quality of other crowd favorites: Caramel Latte Granita, Frappuccino or Pumpkin Pie Latte. However, due to social isolation, local Starbucks cafes have been slow to re-open, carefully choose available drinks and still rely on drive-through for serving. And some of these are seasonal drinks, which means consumers are fully aware that their typical drive-thru visit won’t always include all of the above being available.

So what else do they get from a Starbucks location? First, these chains are commonly used as coworking spaces (without the rental agreement) for a full day’s work and meetings, too. With or without drinks, people are pulling up a chair, a laptop and sometimes their own outside snacks to just hang out inside, hogging up tables. But couldn’t this also happen at Dunkin Donuts and McDonalds and Coffee Beanery? Depending on the store policies, sure.

However, Starbucks has been making itself known as a brand rather than just your typical cafe or fast food location. Starbucks has made itself a worldwide version of the ’80s show “Cheers.” Viewers don’t really remember Norm’s or Cliff’s favorite drinks. Viewers just knew that’s where they wanted to hang out. Were viewers lead to believe that the drinks were worth it? Sure, it’s assumed so, just as viewers assume that Starbucks coffee is the same high-quality value to match its price.

Recommended Read: “Coffee Chains Assist Front-Line Workers with Free Drinks, Masks

The chain’s humanitarianism certainly helps. But in all fairness, Dunkin Donuts is doing its fair share of charitable work, too. Still though, DD is just not the hangout that Starbucks is — and obviously known more for its baked goods than the beverages. But, in my opinion, consumers are just looking for an escape, a place where they know they are “taking a break from all [their] worries, sure would help a lot.” And if that Starbucks cup adds a little bit of normalcy during this worldwide health outbreak, let them have their escape.

Would you like to receive Shamontiel’s Weekly Newsletter via MailChimp? Sign up today!

Written by

Check out her five Medium publications: Doggone World, Homegrown, I Do See Color, Tickled and We Need to Talk. Visit Shamontiel.com to read about her.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store