Archive for May, 2008|Monthly archive page

CoffeeWars 2008 – Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonalds vs The Economy

You hear about it almost everyday now. The headlines are popping into mainstream news. Coffee is being hit pretty hard by the economy. Even the giants like Starbucks are losing money. But how is this possible? I thought coffee drinking would be up. Traditionally during down swings in the economy it’s the addictive habit forming bad stuff that usually does well, like cigarettes, alcohol and yes our favorite drink Coffee.

I love coffee in good times and in bad. Lately times are a bit rough, gas price is up, the fear of recession is looming, many are unemployed. I guess the idea of going into a really nice store with wood floors and nice couches and buying a cup of coffee with a name like “Venti Caramel Macchiato, with Whip Cream, Extra Hot with a shot of Espresso” just doesn’t sound like the right thing to do during these times. So what are people doing for their coffee fix?

I think people are going to places where it feels right. For example at Dunkin’ Donuts, coffee is just called coffee. You have a choice of small, medium or large. You can have creme or milk and what ever sweetener you like. If you work at it you can make you coffee taste anyway you like. Sure the cup is made of Styrofoam and it doesn’t have a cardboard sleeve. When thrown away the cup will never decompose and that’s bad for the environment. You don’t get someone called a “Barrista” making your coffee. But you feel good about that Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. You didn’t overspend or splurge. You are drinking with the common folk. I have noticed a lot less staring while carrying my Dunkin’ Donuts coffee cup than when I was toting around my Starbucks coffee cup.

I think even McDonald’s is getting the hint. They are offering coffee where people buy comfort food. There is nothing like getting up early and heading into McDonald s for a Sausage McMuffin and Hash browns. In the past I would never think to get coffee at McDonald’s but now they have the same large cups and raised lids that make you feel like you have a good cup of coffee.

So I think Starbucks needs to become more socially acceptable during good times and bad. Here are some ideas for Starbucks to get me in the store.

  • Free WIFI: Nothing is better with coffee than some free internet use.
  • Inexpensive “make your own” coffee with free refills: I normally just get a regular coffee at starbucks so why does someone have to pull the handle on the coffee urn for me, when I can do it myself. The free refills would keep me in the store eating more banana nut loaf.
  • Coffee lessons: have the Baristas teach us common folk how to make a good espresso.

When the times are good and you want to feel like a treat goto Starbucks. When your dealing with day to day just surviving in this crazy economy go where it feels right.

Inspired by:
Pressed by Economy, Starbucks Lowers Its Forcast – New York Times