The Musings Of An Opinionated Sod [Help Me Grow!]

Once You Start, You Can’t Stop …
May 23, 2012, 6:13 am
Filed under: Comment

China is an amazing place.

I love it.

I literally love it.

I love it’s madness, speed, energy and down right weirdness.

But despite that, I still need a bunch of creature comforts and one of those is coffee.

Every morning, as I walk to work, I pop into Starbucks to get a latte.

Yes, I know Starbucks coffee is not real coffee.

Yes, I know Starbucks is about as corporate as you can get.

Yes, I know Starbucks is pretty much shitty all round … but in a land where good coffee is hard to find, beggars can’t be choosers.

That said, I think Starbucks is pretty amazing in China.

Not because of their products or their stores or their service, but because they almost single-handidly brought the coffee culture into one of the greatest tea adoring nations on earth.

Sure, it cost them an immense amount of time, money and training – but to achieve that is way more impressive than what most brands can claim.

But that’s not what this post is about, no, it’s about standards.

Last week, when I walked into Starbucks, I saw this:

Yep, it’s a heat sleeve dispenser.

Now I appreciate that might not seem much to you, but a brand that has built part of its reputation on its customer service, I found it interesting they decided it was time their customers sorted out their own coffee sleeve requirements.

This might seem a petty little thing – and it is – but it’s the implication of doing this that disturbs me.

What happens if they decide to charge for their sweetner?

What happens if they decide to charge for using a spoon?

OK, so I’m being alarmist, but the thing is, once a brand sets a minimum standard of experience, you cannot ever go back on it.

Well, actually you can, but you better have a good reason for it [ie: helping the environment] and you’d better make sure people know about it.

People might have bad memories … people might have better things to worry about and do … however they are very quick to notice a decline/change in something that has become part of their routine which is why while a brand might not think it’s a big thing, they’d be surprised how quickly people can turn it into that, especially when they feel they’re losing something they’ve previously had and it’s gone for no reason.

34 Comments so far
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First world problems.

Comment by DH

starbucks is not a first world problem, its a jumped up twats problem.

Comment by andy@cynic

I’d never thought of Starbucks China achievement until you put it in the context of them literally changing the tea drinking culture. Whether that’s a good thing can be debated, but it’s still an amazing achievement for a brand and I would guess far more effective than many of the effie winning entries.

Your point about service levels is great. Too many people don’t look at that sort of thing and while the heat sleeve is a small point, it signifies a change in attitude and as you correctly state, once you do that (for no good reason) it can cause cracks in service that permeate the whole company.

Comment by Pete

stop being so fucking nice to campbell pete. youve already passed the friends zone and youre running towards the “i want some man love” area and thats as disturbing for me as it is for your smoking wife.

get a fucking grip.

Comment by andy@cynic

I agree it’s very interesting to see what they have done. I like the fact that instead of just seeing China as a get rich quick move (kiss of death) they appear to have been in it for the long haul. If China takes to coffee then they will be the first brand people think of.

I read a great story ages ago about coffee in Japan; how people had no marker for the taste – so instead of trying to educate people they simply brought out and encouraged other brands in their group to bring out ‘coffee flavoured’ extensions.

Comment by Rob Mortimer (Not a fake Andy)

That was Clotaire Rapaille. It is a great case study, in fact it’s his only great case study.
Sorry Robert (C), I know how much you like him.

Comment by George

its a fucking shit coffee sleeve.

no one is going to die.

companies arent going to go bankrupt.

society wont break the fuck down.

your point has been noted campbell, ill even concede that theres some value in the shit youre saying but lets all calm the fuck down and get a grip.

its a cardboard sleeve for an american shit coffee brand that has fucked up thousands of years of tea culture. thats the fucking story here, not some fucking cardboard shit you put around your overpriced latte bollocks.

Comment by andy@cynic

What Andrew said.
Every single word.

Comment by George

but youve got fucking excellent taste.

Comment by andy@cynic

The bigger story is if you’re still banned from starbucks times sq.

Comment by Billy Whizz

who the fuck knows. that was campbells fault as well. every shit thing that has happened in my life can be traced back to him. planner prick evil bastard.

Comment by andy@cynic

That is a good point Andy. Why couldn’t China have been left a tea drinking culture? But the fact is, as much as Starbucks spent a fortune on launching a plethora of stores all around the country – if people didn’t want it, they wouldn’t have been successful … which opens the possibility that so many ‘cultural traits’ were created because of lack of choice rather than preference.


Comment by Rob

Why buy a cup of starbucks shit when you can buy a shot?

After a cup of starbucks shit you need a shot to get the bad taste out of your mouth. Maybe that should be their new product line, would fill a need and might make them some money.

Comment by Billy Whizz

Maybe that’s the reason Starbucks have been experimenting with selling alcohol at some stores. You’re a visionary Billy.

Comment by Pete

For real?

Comment by Billy Whizz

wake me up when they introduce strippers.

Comment by andy@cynic

Starbucks strippers you can customize like their coffee? I’d start drinking there. But they’d have to throw in the cardboard heat sleeve, or that’s a deal breaker.

Comment by DH

Would you like your stripper tall or grande?

Comment by Rob Mortimer (Not a fake Andy)

It would certainly be more successful than their lunch menu.

Comment by Rob

Jesus Rob… You worry about the dumbest things. And Latte is a PUSSY drink. I’ll bet you have it made with skimmed milk, or soy shit. Probably have Splenda in it too. Get a fucking six pack and hide it under the desk. Better yet. Leave it on top of the fucking desk. Jesus, become an “AdScamer!”

Comment by George Parker

im fucking glad you come on here george, you add some much needed class to this bollocks, but havent you got better places to be? like a bar?

oh and to add to the “campbell is a pussy” talk. he doesnt drink booze and only likes diet fucking coke with ice and no bastard lemon. why i even acknowledge his fucking existence is beyond me.

Comment by andy@cynic

And he likes queen and wears birkenstocks.

Comment by DH

millions of sperm and thats the one that made it through. fucking amazing.

Comment by andy@cynic

Hello George. I’m sorry I violated your senses with this post, I will go sit on the naughty step and drink Starbucks until it makes me sick. Which will probably be about one sip.

Comment by Rob

Someone has to uplift the rancid tones of this fucking blog. One day, when you grow up, you can aspire to being an “AdScam.” Otherwise, you’ll end up as a Chinese “Agency Spy” re-running BDA stories from PR douchenozzles. Just trying to help… ‘Cos, as you know, I am a fucking prince.

Comment by George Parker

I know I’m bad George, but I’m not ‘that’ bad. Am I?

Comment by Rob

This blog is staggering.

Comment by Marcus

Let’s hope it’s on its last legs

Comment by John


Comment by Marcus

I’m impressed you can even tell the difference.

Comment by Rob

I got really annoyed at the cloying charade of telling the girl at the till my name, only to find the idiot at the other end shouted out ‘venti america to go’, not Andrew, not Northern, not even bald twat in a grasping at youth t-shirt
2 things to take from this.
1 American, not latte. For the love of God.
Second, if you’re going to do a promotional thingy, at least make sure you’ve told your staff, or make sure they can bring themselves to do it.
You’re right though I think, standards matter, let one thing drop and it’s a slippery slope. Especially when you’re most loyal customers are both petty and with too much time on their hands

Comment by northern

any other fucker find the irony in groper and campbell talking about standards when one bastard cant fucking spell for fucking money and the other likes fucking queen.

Comment by andy@cynic

My standards are consistent
Consistly low
And anway, as you’ll soon find out with parenting, do what I say, not what I do

Comment by northern

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