Riffing on a MarketingProfs Post
Writing for the MarketingProfs blog, Ted Mininni posted his take on a recent McDonald’s ad for their McCafe coffee drinks. His post begins …
”Score one for McDonald’s... at the expense of Starbucks and all of the other high-brow coffee shops peddling pricey lattes, cappuccino, espresso and all manner of caffeinated concoctions.”
His post continues by declaring pretentious coffee is out and affordable coffee is in. Right on, I agree with his point given today’s dismal economy.
The comments to his post are lively and run wild. Definitely worth reading.
In the comments, Ted mentions how “Eight O'Clock beat out Starbucks. Go figure.” This triggered a long-dormant thought that is no longer dormant. Read below for my comment to Ted on this.
Ted … I gotta chime in again. You mentioned how 8 o’Clock Coffee beat Starbucks Coffee on taste. True. And Dunkin’ Donuts is touting the taste of its coffee is preferred over Starbucks. Yep. Got it.
Starbucks has never fared well in taste tests. That’s because the taste of Starbucks coffee is too polarizing. Many people say Starbucks coffee tastes too bitter, too burnt, too bold. Starbucks has always had a strong point-of-view about what coffee should taste like. That strong point-of-view about coffee has helped to build its brand.
In the book PURPLE COW, Seth Godin smartly writes … “In almost every market, the boring slot is filled. The product designed to appeal to the largest possible audience already exists, and displacing it is awfully difficult. The real growth comes with products that annoy, offend, don't appeal, are too expensive, too cheap, too heavy, too complicated, too simple — too something."
8 o’Clock Coffee makes boring coffee. Boring coffee is not going to annoy, nor will it offend people. Conversely, non-boring coffee will annoy and offend people. 8 o’Clock Coffee has never been a growth brand. Starbucks, with its non-boring taste profile, has been a growth brand. HAS BEEN, being emphasized.
I offer up that Starbucks has been slouching towards boring coffee for years. The biggest coffee push from the company recently has been behind Pike Place Roast. This is a mild coffee meant to appeal to the masses, which means it’s meant to be boring. Problem is, the Starbucks brand was built on strong, polarizing coffee … not boring coffee.
As Starbucks has grown to over 16,000 locations worldwide, it has tried to tone down its strong point-of-view on coffee in order to appeal to even more people. In my opinion, that’s hurt more than it has helped.
The company has abandoned its strong point-of-view about how “good” coffee should taste. This abandonment has wrecked havoc on its brand. In its attempt to appeal to everyone, Starbucks has lost those someones who enjoyed a coffee taste profile that isn’t watered down to a milder, more palatable and less offending taste.
Back in the day, the coffee Starbucks served earned an opinion from people because it wasn’t boring. These days, the company serves boring coffee (Pike Place Roast) and it no longer has a strong point of view about how good coffee should taste.
It’s my take … focusing on boring coffee has, more than the dismal economy, positioned Starbucks for the steep decline its experiencing.