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5 Ways Starbucks Lures Customers In

2012 June 18
by Charlie

As I write this article I am sitting at Starbucks, and sipping on a Grande Pikes Place with no cream or sugar. Today I had no reason to stop at this particular Starbucks. Plainly put, it was a want. I was on my way to training this morning, and I wanted to grab some coffee and work on my blog post. So Starbucks seemed like the ideal place to stop. 

Starbucks has got an amazing scheme going! I’m sure I’m not the only one drawn to Starbucks. I often get drawn in for two main reasons: free wifi and great coffee. For me, it’s just a chance to get away from the daily grind and relax. However, when you think about it for a second there are really five reasons people are lured to Starbacks. Here are my five opinions on what lures people in:

  • Smell – when you walk into Starbucks a sudden whiff of that coffee aroma hits you like an ocean breeze. It’s especially eye opening at 7am when you are still trying to wake up. Personally, I think Starbucks needs to make a cologne out of that smell, because 1) it smells freakin’ AWESOME and 2) it could help wake you up. :) Want proof of this? Well have you visited the newer Targets lately? Have you noticed that almost all Starbucks are near the front of the store?  I wonder if it’s because of the aroma? Hmm…
  • Free Wifi – question for you? Would you go to Starbucks if there wasn’t free internet? I’d assume about 30-50% of people that drink their coffee at Starbucks do so to surf the internet. It can be a great place just to unwind, surf the web, write blog posts ( ;) ), or conduct business in front of a laptop. Again it’s just another reason to get customers in the door, and to stay a while.
  • Atmosphere – have you ever visited a Walmart, and then went into Whole Foods and just observed customers and clerks body language and attitudes? Big difference between the two environments if you ask me. People at Whole Foods like being there…in the same context when you visit Starbucks you notice people are genuinally happy to be there too. Both from a customer and clerk perspective. Again, it all contributes to the customers experience and attractiveness of Starbucks.
  • Popularity – have you recently noticed that Starbucks changed their logo to the above symbol? Ya they no longer have their company name on their logo, because they feel like their logo is a signal of the world’s finest coffee. “Our new evolution liberates the Siren from the outer ring, making her the true, welcoming face of Starbucks. For people all over the globe, she is a signal of the world’s finest coffee — and much more. She stands unbound, sharing our stories, inviting all of us in to explore, to find something new and to connect with each other. And as always, she is urging all of us forward to the next thing. After all, who can resist her?” (Starbuck’s mid-life crisis)
  • Good Coffee –  at the premise of why people come to Starbucks is their good coffee. For me – and I’m not getting paid to say this – Starbucks has the best coffee. Believe me, I’d much rather go to McDonalds and buy a coffee at half the price, but it really doesn’t taste the same.


So if I was to attempt to quantify how much each “lure” costs me for my $2.15 Grande Pikes Place here would be my estimate:

Grande Pikes Place – $2.15

  • Smell – 20% – $0.43
  • Free Wifi – 5% – $0.11
  • Atmosphere – 25% – $0.54
  • Popularity – 40% – $0.86
  • Good Coffee – 5% – $0.11

I know this quantified cost is completely subjective, but really when you buy Starbucks coffee you are paying for that status symbol and atmosphere.

So there are just a few of the reasons of how I think Starbucks lures in customers. How do you think Starbucks lures in customers? Do you visit Starbucks? Why or why not?

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Charlie

An IT professional, Charlie also buys and sells liens, lives on the cheap, runs marathons and helps to run his family farm. In his spare moments, he raises 3 children, does the dishes and writes one post a week. His former blog, Frugal Retirement Plan, has been cited by US News and World Report.

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4 Responses
  1. June 18, 2012

    I worked for Starbucks for several years, and I can tell you that the company works its collective tail off to ensure that customers have lots of unconscious cues to draw them further into a store.

    The classic example was when Starbucks first rolled out hot breakfast sandwiches a few years ago — and wound up completely renovating ovens, because the smell of the cheese in the sandwiches was competing with the coffee aroma!

  2. June 18, 2012

    Fudge, and I went to Starbucks this morning for a Strawberries & Creme…I wonder if I was lured in like a naive little lamb now.

  3. June 18, 2012

    @Jennifer – that is really interesting. Do you know if Starbucks has ever thought about making a cologne?

    @Lilian – you couldn’t resist because they’ve programmed your car to drive there too, because it it’s fueled by the the aroma too! :)

  4. June 19, 2012

    I go to Starbucks for one thing only. A double chocolate brownie to go. Love them and have an ongoing battle to ration those calories. The coffee smell is divine though and makes a nice mix.

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