I've long been fascinated by Starbucks because they managed to sell America not on a product, but on a miniature lifestyle. They called "third place," but I think of it more as the old office water cooler. Suburban Starbucks have their own logic, but in cities, Starbucks has replaced the water cooler as the place employees go to hang out for 10 minutes while taking a break. And they pay $4 to do.
The problem with selling a lifestyle and not a product is that "lifestyle" is even easier for competitors to duplicate. If you've been following the news for the last couple months, Starbucks is in a panic because first Dunkin Donuts and now McDonalds are coming after it.
Starbucks' first move to fight back is axing their inedible breakfast sandwiches. (Actually, their pre-first move was to launch a test program in Seattle with $1 coffee and free refills.)
Seems like a smart decision to me. The sandwiches were outside the company's core competency and didn't really fit with what they were selling. Starbucks was never going to be a place people go to for nutritional sustinence.
Expect to see more big changes.
1 hour ago