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Why Starbucks Cannot Do Anything Right
The grass is always greener, the coffee is always bolder

Know what you get when you build a customer base around Americans who are all hopped up on caffeine? Jittery complainers with a nervous tick called whining. Ever since Starbucks began trying to turn around the company — shorter coffee machine to see customers, actually brewing espresso, fewer music offerings to reduce clutter, launching a social network-y website — the company's execs have seen what change can wrought: Pissed off consumers. And with its new Pike Place Roast, which replaced the trio of brews Starbucks used to regularly served, the addicted masses who throw at least a couple bucks Starbucks' way are revolting.

But the new strategy, which played down the company's more-established robust roasts, has touched off a debate about what customers think Starbucks should stand for: bold coffee for connoisseurs or a tamer brew for the masses?

Much of that debate is taking place on the company's customer-feedback Web site, which the chain launched in March. The site is littered with thumbs-down verdicts on the new roast. Some small competitors have posted messages there trying to woo away disenchanted Starbucks drinkers.

A customer with the handle Westend complained in a posting on the site that the flavor of Pike Place Roast is "weak, watery and no substitute for the bold." Another, ArtM, called the coffee "a fundamental, grievous error." Beccajav derided its finish as "reminiscent of a taste from the dentist's office."


But Starbucks executives say the chain's aggressive marketing of Pike Place Roast has been a success. Since its introduction, Starbucks' sales of drip coffee have risen by between 5% and 15%, depending on the part of the country, the company says.

"Our satisfaction metrics are up across the board," says Rob Grady, Starbucks' vice president, global beverage. Most of the sales increase in drip coffee has come from new customers "that historically might have not come into Starbucks," he adds.


Jul 1, 2008 · posted by david · Link · 4 Responses
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    Comments (4)
    No. 1 tony the tiger says:

    The Pike Place Roast is AWFUL!!! It makes Dunkin Donuts look good. It must be cheaper to make becuase it is just disgusting.

    Posted: Jul 1, 2008 at 1:37 pm
    No. 2 tony the tiger says:

    And what is that Starbucks representative smoking because I want some! Do you really think we are going to believe people are running to Starbucks to get their Pike Roast fix? They must be cooking the books.

    Posted: Jul 1, 2008 at 3:15 pm
    No. 3 dvz says:

    And just announced on the Drudge Report (complete with siren) STARBUCKS CLOSING 600 STORES IN USA

    Posted: Jul 1, 2008 at 4:37 pm
    No. 4 tony the tiger says:

    there are over 400 starbucks within three blocks of my new york city apartment including one that opened just last week. hopefully the 600 to close include those.

    i am still waiting for them to open a combination duane reade starbucks.

    Posted: Jul 1, 2008 at 5:15 pm
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