The Starbucks Craze Explained

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.- March 27, 2017

By Blair Warren

Starbucks stores exist practically within every town in the U.S., allowing all coffee-addicted Americans easy-access to the popular brand. Starbucks is seen as the guru of coffee, but is this due to its taste, or its many other distinctive attributes?

Every Starbucks, no matter if it is in a small town in Wisconsin or in the heart of Hong Kong, has a matching environment of tranquility and warmth. The brand permeates every aspect of the stores’ design, from its soothing brown wallpaper to its wooden tables and floors.

Amit Ahuja, a coffee writer, explains its allure as the “third place” that people seek. In addition to home and work, people want a third place, often a neutral community space, to feel relaxed and at home. Along with its repeated business design in each store, consumers also know what to expect. Starbucks has become a reliable, peaceful, welcoming location for consumers to feel at ease and enjoy their daily coffee intake.

Starbucks began in the America’s coffee capital — Seattle, Washington — in 1972. In only 45 years, Starbucks locations have spread to 62 countries and 25,085 stores. A 2016 survey found that over 35.7 million Americans visited a Starbucks in the last 30 days. Howard Schultz, the CEO, deserves much of the credit for its success. His vision for the company allowed revenue to triple within the last ten years. Schlutz, according to Forbes magazine, is worth around 2.9 billion U.S. dollars.

Costa Coffee comes in at second-best to Starbucks, a close global competitior that started in the U.K. Within a wider scope, Starbucks comes in second to the most valuable food company in the world, McDonald’s.

It is still somewhat shocking that Starbucks is so popular when considering its high prices. A venti (large) coffee at Starbucks is $2.45, while a large at Dunkin Donuts is $2.09. For more specialty drinks, such as a White Chocolate Mocha, these prices rise to $4.75, while at Dunkin Donuts, the prices stay mostly under $3.

These Starbucks-goers are not just in it for the coffee, though — they are buying the brand. Another element of the allure is its Italian names for drinks and cup sizes. Instead of a small, medium, and large, consumers must order their coffees in the three sizes of tall, grande, and venti. They also have the option to buy specialty drinks such as Frappuccinos, Macchiatos, Cappuccinos, and Café Americanos. These Italian, romanticized names draw in the customers for an experience of affordable indulgence.

Starbucks is not only popular to business men and women who need a boost before work, but there is also a huge fan base from the youth population. There is a propagated stereotype of the “basic white girl” who buys Starbucks coffee and wears all the latest clothing trends. This stereotype has benefited rather than harmed Starbucks because its target audience includes the population which is most active on social media sites. Throughout the realms of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat, there are innumerous images of the Starbucks logo on specialty drinks. Starbucks has become not only desirable to older, working people, but it has also become “cool” to the millennial generation, accounting for much of its revenue.

Outside the immediate, in-store coffee, Starbucks also sells products for coffee-lovers to enjoy at home and on-the-go. This includes coffee beans and special coffee makers, as well as their Travel Tumbler with the Starbucks logo on it. This allows consumers to feed into their Starbucks coffee addiction, even when they cannot make it to the store on a particular morning.

Beyond the Starbucks consumers, there is also the morale between its workers to consider. Unlike typical coffee businesses, Starbucks labels its counter workers as “baristas”, essentially an upgrade in status (while doing the same job). Starbucks also has many benefit packages for its workers that set it apart from other employers. There is the “Your Special Blend” package, which offers a 401(k), adoption assistance, health coverage, and more. They also have the “Starbucks College Achievement Plan,” which offers free tuition to Arizona State University’s online Bachelors degree program.

Though it is argued that Starbucks is overpriced and overrated, it still remains one of the most fruitful companies not only in America, but also around the world. This success can be accredited not only to its high quality coffee, but also to its tranquil vibe, Italianized names, and “cool” factor.

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