I went in today and noticed Starbucks has introduced new breakfast items like hot oatmeal and whole wheat buns. A few days ago, I was at another Starbucks that was still serving those breakfast sandwiches that make the store smell like a cheap diner rather than a joint for premium coffee. Something isn’t quite right at the house of mermaid. Too much expansion. Venturing away from their core product. Every place looking way too much like the other, which normally shouldn’t be a bad thing when trying to maintain brand consistency. Whatever it is, what used to work for me no longer does.
Maybe it’s because in Vancouver, we have an abundant choice of excellent coffee shops with loads of individuality and charm… something that appears to be missing at Starbucks. The once symbol for cool coffee and a great place to meet, is beginning to feel like a bad corporate hangover with a self-indulgent CEO at the helm who has lost his grip on the experience and setting. Or it may just be me. But, I find myself increasingly drawn to every coffee shop OTHER than Starbucks to grab a cup of joe or meet for business or catch up with a friend. Sure, when I’m travelling, I tend to look for a Starbucks because I know what to expect because I don’t know the local coffee scene and don’t have time to explore. And I’m fully aware that delivering that consistent product and experience is key to that statement, and what we all like to preach about when running a successful business. But, there is a fine line between consistency and cookie-cutter. I think the mermaid may have crossed over.