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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Best Espresso in the Neighborhood

One area of marketing I've focused on in this blog is the idea of congruency and authenticity. You should deliver an authentic experience, congruent with the image that your company and/or product represent.

I was surprised yesterday to see on the door of the Starbucks in downtown Silver Spring, a sticker saying "Best Espresso in the Neighborhood." This immediately raised a number of questions in our group, none of them positive for Starbucks.

1) We're not really part of a neighborhood, at least, not with connotation they're searching for. Downtown Silver Spring has been gentrified. The street this particular Starbucks is on, includes Potbelly, Noodles & Company, Barnes & Noble, Cake Love, a kebab place, Ben & Jerry's, and a few more chains.
2) Everyone knows Starbucks is a huge chain. Clearly, it's not a homemade sticker, of a small, beleaguered coffee shop, trying to assert its position in a competitive marketplace. They're a big brand - "Starbucks - we're the biggest coffee buyer in the world, and we bring the best coffee to you" would at least line up with who they are at this point.
3) The sticker implies a certain type of atmosphere... Maybe a small group of devoted coffee fanatics toiling away in search of coffee nirvana. This location, on the other hand, typically has a high percentage of high school students flirting with each other, crowding the store, and ordering drinks that likely contain a higher percentage of sugar than coffee.

What's interesting about this particular store, is that the people working it, are some of the nicest you'll meet in the chains locally, who manage long lines with panache. "Starbucks - good people getting you your coffee quickly" would work better :)

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