Without the Chairs It’s Just a $5.00 Cup of Coffee

Cappuccino_machine
Jay Ehret at The Marketing Spot has an interesting take today on Starbucks’ efforts to regain some of their past glory by introducing new products including lemonade and the "perfect frappuccino".   As Jay points out, product differentiation wasn’t the key to Starbucks’ success in the first place and it still isn’t.

Face it, there’s nothing Starbucks can do to a cup of coffee, a glass of lemonade, or any other product that can’t be copied by a competitor.  It’s the "Starbucks experience" that brings the customers in and allows them to charge five bucks for an eighty-nine cent cup of coffee.  It’s the ambience of the store, the cushy chairs, the background music, the wi-fi, the snob appeal of the trendy coffee drinks that bring the customers in, not the coffee.  In fact, many coffee purists will tell you that Starbucks’ coffee isn’t that great.

Michael Gerber tells us in "The E-Myth Revisited" that every business needs a system, a way of running the business that’s repeatable, no matter who’s there to run it.  Every single french fry in every Mc Donald’s restaurant tastes exactly the same every time.  That’s what makes the franchise work.  It’s also what makes it impossible for Mc Donald’s to ever serve a great meal.  You always get a good meal.  You always get the same meal.  But you never get a great meal.  Standardization is the enemy of greatness when it comes to food.  If you want a great burger or a great cup of coffee, your best bet is an independent restaurant or coffee shop.

So, what’s the lesson here?  The way to make any business stand out is to provide an outstanding experience.  Good products and service are no longer a way to stand out.  Today’s customers expect that.  They won’t settle for anything less.  To be their favorite store, the one they brag about to their friends, you have to deliver an outstanding experience-a "WOW!" experience-an experience that they can’t wait to share with their friends.

See also:

"Are You a Great Leader?"

"Starbucks Trivia"

"Value Pricing"

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