A #Starbucks search on Instagram yields 4,391,166 results compared to a #Costa search of 501,823 and #Caffe Nero of 8,995. I'm just going to come right out and say it: Starbucks is shit. And before you close the browser and cast Mirror Me into the abyss of blogs you used to read, hear me out.
As much as I don't like Starbucks- not their coffee, not their tea, not their hot chocolate and certainly not their stale croissants, I still went into Starbucks last month for a meeting with my website designer. I went through a period of dedication to Starbucks where my repeat order was a Hot Chocolate and Ham & Emmental Croissant. This was about two years ago and one day, I had an epiphany- I never really enjoyed my hot chocolate as it was always too chocolatey, too watery or just plain cold and the croissant was always stale. Why the freak was I still going there? So, I quit it altogether. This year my mum quit her 30+ year addiction to Starbucks latte's and mocha's for similar reasons. She now frequents Costa for her caffeine fixes. Costa's drinks and snacks are better and the same goes for Caffe Nero. But at the end of the day, Costa is no Starbucks. Caffe Nero is no Costa.
Just like 'Hoover' becoming euphemism for 'vacuum cleaner' even though Dyson is better (I'm not sure I've ever seen a Hoover in my life?), Starbucks is euphemism for Coffee. And whilst they might not be very good at coffee, Starbucks is fantastic at Marketing and Branding. A search of 'Starbucks fashion' yields some stellar images and if I was to play word association with Starbucks, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen would be in the top 5 results to pop into mind. Now, there just isn't that type of love for any other coffee shop. Starbucks utilizes social media in a great way and in the present digital world, a brands success is highly (sometimes fully) dependent on their social media. Let’s face it: if it wasn't Instagrammed, it didn't happen and if a brand is not on Instagram, does it really exist? Whilst Costa and Caffe Nero are on Instagram, their followings are no match to Starbucks 1.4 million. In fact, Caffe Nero's Instagram account is exclusive to their Turkey presence and that in itself is an epic fail.
In addition to top-notch marketing, Starbucks played on our narcissism, making each customer feel important and creating an emotional connection by personalizing their cups. Call it far-fetched but by writing our names on the cups, the customer is allowed to be whoever they want to be and who doesn’t like that? I've seen a few Beyoncé and Rihanna inscribed cups on Instagram. Luckily, impersonation in the form of Starbucks cups is not a crime.
Starbucks is a lifestyle- it's fashionable, stylish, trendy. Their cup is an accessory. I stopped eating McDonalds eight years ago when I happened upon a world of burgers a lifetime better than what they were offering. For me, Starbucks is the McDonald's equivalent of a coffee, just not cheap. The only difference is that I would never again feel the need to step into McDonald's. I'd still go into Starbucks for the wifi and comfy couch when I need to have a meeting and I might buy a bottle of water whilst I'm at it. At the end of the day, Starbucks still wins. I'm just glad that I've stopped ordering hot chocolates and chucking them away after two sips.
Photo credit: sodahead.com
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