On a hot day, you can expect to walk into a Starbucks and see a line of thirsty visitors waiting to order their favorite Frappuccino. From now through May 16th, you can expect to see a line of Frappuccino fans regardless of what the weather is like outside because Starbucks is hosting a Happy Hour from 3-5pm on those dates, where all Frappuccinos are half price. This is a pretty amazing deal if you like the blended drinks – especially if you happen to live somewhere that it is feeling like summertime already.
The happy hour special is good on all Frappuccinos, not just the new summer drinks, but if you’re up for giving one of them a try, I’ll recommend the Coconut Mocha!
Are you a Starbucks fan? If so, when was the last time that you stopped in to a McDonald’s or Dunkin’ Donuts to get a quick cup of coffee while you were out and about? A new study by CustomersDNA surveyed the coffee and breakfast buying habits of 15,000 fast food customers. The survey found that more than 50% of regular Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts customers regularly visit other businesses for their morning cup of joe, while just 29% of regular McDonalds customers venture to a Starbucks or Dunkin’ for a coffee. Starbucks still makes up most of its sales with coffee, while McDonald’s coffee sales only make up about 6% of its total.
Still, it is interesting to see these trends and think about what drives us to make our coffee choices. The owner of the company that conducted the study noted that Dunkin’ tended to have the cheapest price for coffee, while McDonalds was slightly more and Starbucks slightly more again, but said that the study didn’t ask consumers to identify what made them choose one business over another.
My theory? A combination of price, convenience and quality is going to drive most consumers. If you are looking for a specific type of coffee and don’t mind having to wait in line for a few minutes behind people ordering lattes, you might choose Starbucks. If you’re in a rush or just need a quick cup of coffee, you might drive through McDonalds for a cup (and their coffee is quite good) instead of stopping into another coffee shop. And yes, my theory is based on some real-world research – after all, that is often what I’ll do!
Starbucks is celebrating their 40th anniversary this year, and has rolled out a whole variety of new products this spring in celebration of that milestone. I was fortunate enough to attend the launch for the whole new lineup – both drinks and pastries – and got to try everything out just as they were released. The launch of these products actually marks the first time that Starbucks has done a global launch of new items, releasing everything to all of their stores world wide at the same time (although different areas/countries may have slightly different pastries according to local tastes).
The headliner is the Starbucks Tribute Blend, a bold coffee that is a post-roast blend of four different beans and is one of Starbucks best coffees to date. The blend includes aged Sumatra (my favorite), sun-dried Ethiopia, Papua New Guinea and Colombia beans. The coffees in the mix were chosen primarily for the way the combined into one well-balanced brew, but were also chosen because they represent the diversity of Starbucks coffee beans from different parts of the world.
Every time I’m in the grocery store, or any other store for that matter, I hear people complaining about how many cards they have to carry around in their wallets and about how many rewards programs they have to join. The Starbucks card is a little different because you can charge it up and pay for your coffee with it (not just use it to get a normal price on an overpriced box of cookies at the market), but it is still one more thing that you need to carry around with you. But Starbucks is going mobile with their cards and if you have a smart phone, you can download an app to access your card digitally. The app will tell you your balance and, when you press the button to pay, a barcode will appear that the barista can scan. Your bill will be deducted from your balance and you won’t need to fish around in your purse or wallet for yet another card (because we all know that we keep our cellphones handier than anything else, for the most part).
I still like my Starbucks card (which is from 2001!) a lot, but I’ve used this type of system for airplane boarding passes and have to admit that it’s pretty convenient, so I just might end up downloading the app myself. It is currently available for iPhone and Blackberry, with an Anroid app coming soon.