I wanted to clarify and add to my McDonalds “premium” post after something I saw on the news this morning. The focus of the story was that McDonalds is going after the morning coffee market now firmly held by Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts.
The talking head from McDonalds’ marketing department was listing the reasons why the new “premium” coffee was better than competitors:: They have a “special bold blend…how studies show that people get their morning coffee to go (perfect for drive-throughs)…and that they had more retail locations for customer convenience. On paper, these are all good reasons to get into the coffee market and expect to win. However, consumers don’t buy things in a marketing analysis. They buy them in the real world.
So what will happen in the real world? When it began in Seattle, Starbucks was all about the coffee….and only the coffee. The customers were coffee fanatics that could taste the subtle differences in different coffees. And some of those people still come to Starbucks.
But most of Starbucks’ customers now go there to announce to the world the following statement about themselves:
“I just paid $2 more for a cup of coffee than I needed to. I must be affluent (or at least doing OK). I am also worldly and hip because I have conveyed my coffee needs to a barista this morning. Look at the cup that I drink from and draw your own conclusions!”
90% of Starbucks’ customers don’t go there for the coffee. They go there for the CUP.