Tuesday, March 3, 2015

How To Starbucks, Or How Not To

Are you truly enjoying that Starbucks coffee? Or is your smartphone fulfilling the enjoyment for you?
Sitting at a Starbucks on your laptop only makes you look like an inconsiderate hipster that is either scrolling through Tumblr or keeping up with their daily feed of worldly news, also known as Facebook. Sometimes it's more than just that, though. Sometimes you're hard at work thinking about the next best thing that you could possibly create for all of those super rich people governing and secretly planning to take over the world to buy from you so you could join in on their world takeover. Regardless, people are people and the fact of the matter is that Starbucks is genuinely a good place to sit down and place life on pause so that you can bask in the glory that is Earth.

However, there's just one little problem.That smartphone of yours. But we will delve into that a little later...

See, at Starbucks their mission is to inspire and nurture the human spirit - one person, one cup, and one horribly misspelled and misconstrued name at a time. The last bit may be a bit debatable, but there is a whole lot of truth behind the calming environment of Starbucks and how it nurtures the human mind. If it nurtured the human spirit some might take Starbucks to be some kind of devil worshiping playground or a hippie's paradise. That truth lies behind the so called American Dream, otherwise known as American Scheme by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. You're welcome for the mention, Ryan Lewis. And you actually don't even have to go by the name "American Dream" because it can simply be put as an idea turned ingenious.

We all want to grow up and own that new clothing brand that everyone is wearing or help find the cure for cancer. Some of us may simply want to work retail for the rest of our lives while others enjoy contemplating the next best way to do nothing and make something. That something being money. By the way, if you want to make money without doing anything, buy a home located within a quarter-mile of a Starbucks location and watch the value of your home increase by about 96% then sell that sucker.

A small percentage of us are out there tinkering on our computers building web applications and developing the next Snapchat or FlappyBird application for your seemingly fancy, yet outdated iPhone 6. That small percentage is taking advantage of one of the fastest growing careers that absolves into computer programming. Not for the monetary gain, but because of the power that programming can give any individual and the education that comes from it. That small percentage of programmers are what helped you become addicted to checking your smartphone first thing in the morning when you wake up instead of an alarm clock and the sole reason why you panic if your smartphone, laptop, or even your television gets stolen or stops working.

Could you imagine if, in this, the year 2015, our smartphones could hold full conversations with us and interact with us on a daily basis similar to how the romantic-comedy "Her" illustrated a world where our own personal devices were our very own best friends? Sadly, this rapidly growing career of computer programming is halted by education systems throughout the word. For example, in the U.S. alone, only about 2% of high school students study computer science at all. Why? Well, only about 5% of all high schools are certified to teach A.P. Computer science and only about 10% of all high schools even teach anything remotely close to computer science at all! Myspace taught more tweens about programming through HTML than almost all of the high schools in the U.S. combined!

How in the world does this come even remotely close to tying in with Starbucks?

The next time you see a Starbucks ad pay attention to just how bad you want that cake pop or that Iced Passion Tea Lemonade. If you're not totally into the whole Starbucks coffee scene, take a look at any ad and evaluate how much of an entrapment it creates for not just your buying power, but for the pleasure it will bring to you if you bought said advertised product. Did you happen to look at your smartphone within a minute or two of that ad being displayed on tv? Why is it that our reliance on our phones is so crucial and ever-present? Keep that last question in mind.

Now, whenever you find yourself in a Starbucks location or if you made the trip to buy that certain product on that advertisement you saw a couple of hours ago, turn your phone off and see how much your overall experience changes. Let's take a look at how and why you enjoy Starbucks so much and then we can fully evaluate why the proceeding points are all affected by your use of technology and your dependence on it.

The following are 3 reasons why you or that ex-girlfriend of yours were/are so obsessed with the coffee giant that is Starbucks from B2C:

1. Coffee Buying Experience. Howard Shultz (Starbucks Founder) spent a lot of effort not only in the beverage itself but in the entire coffee buying experience.
This is why Starbucks locations around the world consistently have a good atmosphere, indirect lighting, relaxing music in the background, great aromas, and friendly ‘baristas‘.
This is also why their coffee has unique names. At Starbucks you don’t order a simple black coffee, you order a Pike Place blend venti. Rites, names and processes are important part of customer experience.

2. Personal Reward . Psychologists believe a big part of Starbucks’ success comes from the desire to reward yourself. Before a long day of work, you deserve to treat yourself to a nice Grande Cappucino. It’s a little daily splurge that most people can afford.
Behavioral psychologist Dan Ariely has proven how our brain tricks us into enjoying things more if we believe they are better. This means that even if the coffee at Starbucks is not actually scientifically better than the average coffee, the combination of the brand, the experience and your belief that it is probably better makes your brain actually taste it as better coffee and enjoy it more than an average coffee. This is why blind tests are important, because your taste buds will go with your brain bias.
In other words, perception is reality.

3. Familiarity – When you are running to work, and you need your morning Joe, it is hard to think about multiple coffee shops, evaluate them and decide on one. The default answer to ‘morning coffee’ is ‘Starbucks’. This is the power of branding and positioning.

So, what's going on here? Imagine if you stepped into Starbucks, and in this example we are taking a look at reason 1 and 2 backed by buying experience and personal reward, and you weren't able to Shazam that playlist playing in the background or pay using your Starbucks rewards on your smartphone to gain even more caffeine infested coffee. Would your perception and happiness lower? How about if you couldn't Instagram that perfectly angled picture of your Starbucks drink and hashtag it with #starbucksyum? One might wonder if the happiness that we gain from Starbucks or the redemption that we gain from our socially adapted following is or is not controlling our overall experience at Starbucks.

Your overall Starbucks experience is now better simply due to the fact that others are "liking" your shared pictured giving you a thumbs up as a social acceptance that you are doing the right thing. You are indulging in a Starbucks product which, for most of us, can be seen as an admirably delectable choice. So, that rather dull cup of coffee is now instantly the best coffee that you've ever had simply because your use of your smartphone and the applications developed for it allow others to tell you that you're in the right and anything else is in the wrong. And yes, I called that cup of coffee "dull" because neither you nor your best friend with all of those Instagram pictures at a Starbucks can tell difference between Starbucks coffee and Dunkin' Donuts. Exhibit A.

In the end, you are the only person controlling your actions, but your emotions and excitement for the product or lack thereof may be the doing of your so-called "followers". That deviously looking app programmer is out there somewhere finding a way for your attention span to become that much shorter and your overall enjoyment of the world around you that much more dull. Then again that programmer only hinges on the notion that those of us who use any said app will create such a big deal about it that others will use it socially, daily, and strenuously. Your experience of the world is only as sad as you make it seem so, actually, don't blame that programmer, blame yourself.

Starbucks lovers, fear not. This article is in no way implying that Starbucks is a horrible coffee brand that simply wants your money by selling you some half-produced products. It's simply an understanding of how our technological dependency can skew our actual, natural interpretations and experiences at shops like Starbucks. However, it also highlights so interesting of a thought it may be if we lived in a world where smartphones didn't exist. Where we can experience the world to it's fullest without a single notification or e-mail coming across pulling our attention to the 5 inch screen of ours. The funny thing is that without our want to delve into social atmospheres, propaganda, and intellectual information we wouldn't be as advanced as we are today. It's a give and take, but it's also working as a full circle.

Head into Starbucks next time with nothing but a watch and your wallet and see how much your experience changes... for the better or worse.

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