Loft Life: Coffee, Starbucks And The Marketing Game - Spinning Straw Into Gold Blog at - 304650

Spinning Straw Into Gold

LOFT LIFE: Coffee, Starbucks and the marketing game 
Jun. 16, 2013 12:31 pm 
Updated: Jun. 28, 2013 8:31 am

I drink Starbucks coffee at home because I buy the Kirkland version of their breakfast brew. I drink Starbucks coffee at their stores mostly because I have a loyalty card with dollars on it that, for some reason, I advance them money for. What a great marketing game!   

When we had the whole Year 2000 scare that life as we know it would end when the computers and clocks of the world came to a halt, my son said: “You need to stock up on guns and coffee. Coffee, because many people can’t live normally without it, and guns to protect your coffee."

The marketing gimmick at Starbucks is a curious human behavior psychology though. There is other coffee. There is other coffee I like, and even prefer to Starbucks--Panera Bread’s coffee, for instance. 

Panera Bread doesn’t make me jump through hoops to get a free refill. They offer me as many free refills as I can drink on a visit. I don’t need to advance them money, or get stars, or any of that. And their coffee isn’t bitter. But there aren’t many Panera Bread’s at airports, which gets me back to the fact that the Starbucks loyalty card is really convenient.

I do like Starbucks’ new Refreshers, especially the lime one. These are the ones with green coffee, which I think don’t really have any nutritional benefits, as I understand it, because the green beans are roasted. *sigh*

Recently I read that Starbucks is granting a star for any Starbucks product purchase, whether in their stores, or somewhere else--like Costco--where their products are available, and that all you have to do is follow directions to get the credit.

I bought two pounds of coffee at Costco, and then discovered that I was five days too early for the launch of that program. No stars. Then I purchased a case of refreshers at the Costco near my daughter’s home in California, kept the receipt and tried to put in the receipt code on my Starbucks account. Nope. I need the code from some special STAR on the package--which, of course, I didn’t realize then, so it is back in Los Angeles, probably in some trash heap by now.

I tried to purchase another case of Starbuck’s Refreshers here in Connecticut, ‘cause I like ‘em, but guess what. Connecticut people didn’t buy enough for Costco to carry these here. So,  still no stars. That’s three starless Costco purchases so far. And, the other downside of the Starbucks retail store refreshers is that they don’t come in the two flavors offered at the Starbuck’s stores.

So really, why am I so hep to get more stars, to get from the Green to Gold Starbucks level? Ummm. they give you a free cup of coffee if you are gold. At least I think they do. Not totally sure. 

And, oh, and I had 24 stars toward the 30 I needed to get to gold, and somehow they all disappeared recently and I had to start over. Something about an expiration date.

This seems like a lot of work and complication just to get a free cup of coffee that I don’t even prefer. But, still I keep that card on automatic reload. 

Do you think I should just wait until I see a Panera Bread at the airport and chuck the whole Starbucks prepaid card thing?

Oh the power of marketing.

Jun. 16, 2013 4:35 pm
I like cappuccino, don't have a coffee maker, but I have a cappuccino machine.
Jun. 16, 2013 9:05 pm
Hiya Marjorie. I'm a big Starbucks fan yet oddly, I dislike their coffee. If I order just a simple cofee, it will be the blonde roast. That stuff is ok but not quite as good as Mcdonalds. The regular brew, like you said, is just far too bitter. On the same note, I find that the very same bitterness works well in the espresso based drinks and that is where I adore them. A Triple Venti No-foam latte is my usuall but I find I like a variety of the blended coffees and frappucinos. Yummy stuff. The big kick up here in the summer is to get a Tim Hortons Iced Cap and truthfully, they are pretty good for the first half of the drink, if a little watery, but at the end, they're all ice. With a SB frappucinno you get that sinful goodness all the way to the last snorkel. Right now that caramel crunch frap is callin out to me right regular. I've little doubt there is some good marketing involved but on the other hand, they sell some good products so they dont have to sell me, to get me in line.
Jun. 17, 2013 6:46 am
I also buy the Kirkland labeled Starbucks coffee and love it. I can't get behind the hype of the Starbucks coffee houses themselves, only because their coffee is too strong and bitter. I have yet to have a good cup of Jo there. However, they are phenomenal corporate citizens. As for the incentive cards, they can keep them. I'm on enough information overload to worry about how many points I might have toward a free cup of coffee.
Jun. 17, 2013 8:13 am
One of my commenters on my main blogsite ( pointed out that Panera Bread also offers a loyalty card with lots of freebies. Amazing how I have one and completely forgot about it. And, yes, Randy, I do also like their espresso drinks. I also found out you can order ANY roast and bean type for your own French press ($3.50). You sit there with your Indonesian blend French press and feel very special as others look on and wonder how you got that. I suspect they don't want to market that extra-time for the baristas on making your own pot of coffee, but I love it. I have actually decided never to get a cup of coffee there again. It's either espresso drinks, green Refreshers or my own French press of Sumatran (earthy tones) coffee. No need for a refill, 'cause I haven't finished a French press full yet.
Jun. 17, 2013 9:35 am
I like Starbucks and frequent their shop here in Medford, NJ. I love me some Venti Wet Cappuccino. I also like their Guatemalan whole bean which I grind at home. I prefer my home roasted coffee because then I have control over the bean and the roast. The problem with Starbucks, and one of the reasons they came out with the "blonde" roast BS is because they roast their beans too dark. You can see the oils on the surface of their beans. That is fine if it cups well at that roast level, but I don't think it works across the board. Anywho... I enjoyed this blog post. Thanks!
Jun. 19, 2013 10:04 am
I didn't like Starbucks until they came out with the blonde roast which I buy in K-Cup packs. For convenience sake, we use a Keurig brewer, because my husband and I have vastly different tastes in coffee. The darker the better for him, and I do not like the dark roast. The best coffee I've ever had was Alterra Ethiopian Harrar, which they no longer carry, unfortunately. Still, they make great coffee, but they do not make K-Cups, so I have to occasionally break out the french press and have a cup. Alterra is a Milwaukee, WI-based business, so their coffee is in many stores around the area. Very good coffee!
Jun. 20, 2013 8:53 am
One thing for sure they are marketing wizards! Our little town, which can't support a local farmer's market is home to THREE Starbucks. One of which is a drive-thru and always has cars in line. Personally, I don't like their coffee. I just drink 'coffee' - black coffee, no frilly drinks for me. I am sure I am in minority.
Jun. 20, 2013 9:19 am
I have to chuckle at your calling Corona a "little town" BN, but I am surprised you don't get local produce. Here in Enfield, CT, which I imagine is a similar size to Corona, we have 2 farmer's markets and 1 Starbucks. Interesting huh! You would think California would lean more to produce than chains, but then, CA is a huge coffee culture. Thanks for reading and commenting. And thanks also to all of you who have shared.
Jun. 20, 2013 10:07 am
Soooo glad to hear that others don't like Starbucks! I think their coffee is bitter, too, and I like strong coffee--just not Starbucks. The coffee-based drinks are quite imaginative, but they are costly from a calorie point of view as well as a monetary one. I think there is an ego-value for some Starbucks users, as if their personal stock value goes up somehow, if they are holding a Starbucks cup! Isn't Starbucks' mark-up something like a ba-jillion percent?
Jun. 21, 2013 9:03 am
This post made me laugh. I am a card carrying gold member, but I don't try to be. It somehow just happens :) The one difference is that I don't have the automatic reload. And, yes, I do get that free coffee drink on my birthday, but I've yet to make it to Starbucks on my birthday! I have become addicted to the Cafe Verona K-cups that I put in my Keurig at home. Unfortunately, I have become a coffee snob when I go to restaurants and hotels. Their coffee is so weak I can't stand to drink it.
Jun. 23, 2013 5:52 am
Oh gosh, I should clarify - I live in a rather new community that didn't have a name when I filled out my information - it has grown like crazy over the last 10 years and with that growth we have lost 2 farm stands and picked up numerous fast food restaurants along with 3 Starbucks. From the looks of the number of children carrying Starbucks cups they are assured of another generation of fans.
Jun. 24, 2013 8:57 am
I live in the Pacific Northwest where it all started.... Starbucks, that is! Even though I am a dyed-in-the-wool caffeine addict (which by the way is a pre-requisite for living in the PNW), I don't care for Starbucks either. Way over roasted and bitter! In my little town of only (barely) 50,000 we have 11 coffee huts and two Starbucks Coffee Shops. Oregonians are ALWAYS jacked up on coffee! It's how we get through our looooong dreary winters. Anyway..... Fun blog on these silly cards we all pack around. I personally have probably 20 ranging from the local Yogurt stand to the Garden Center. Oh, and I just got my Panera Card. You are right, their coffee is far and away much better than Starbucks.
Jun. 28, 2013 8:31 am
I actually stopped going to Starcrooks on a regular basis when our office moved buildings. I had a barista on my "payroll" who with a little tip on Friday, would forget to charge me full price all week if she even charged me at all. Now I only use an old Starcrooks (RED) card when I travel so I can make them make a donation to cancer research with every Vente Chai Latte I drink.
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About Me
As a freelancer, I write about food, travel, entertainment and health. Publishing began as business/health writer for Orange County Business Journal, drama critic for Orange County Register, LA Times, and Irvine World News, and food critic for Orange County Register's 13 city papers. I follow hubby around the country, so next destination in IL/WI was freelancing for Stateline Business and Rock River Times (my Lunch with Marjorie column is still online there). Now in CT, I write about life in New England, travel, continue Lunch with Marjorie, and have other ventures happening. I have consolidated all my writings at Click on MENU for the growing list. Please leave comments! Thank you so much for reading. Marjorie
My favorite things to cook
breakfast scones, a myriad of stuffed peppers, frittatas, and lately Grouper.
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sharing meals with family and friends
My cooking triumphs
grand marnier souffle, which my husband and I make together.
My cooking tragedies
kidney lasagne...hey, we were trying to save $$. lol
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