Starbucks is a place where one can observedifferent kinds of human moods at the same time. It’s a place where people cometo grab drinks, chitchat with friends, read books and work. Today is January20th, Saturday, 5 pm, I entered the Starbucks, which has all glass doors andwindows, at Aborn complex, San Jose. To gather the maximum interactionobservations, I chose the weekend evening time from 5pm-9pm on Saturday. Themoment I entered the cafe, the strong fragrance of coffee attracted me so muchthat I couldn’t resist to order one cappuccinofor myself. I sat down on the long rectangular seat(see Photo 1) which was in the middle of the cafe from where I could see theentrance and experience the high traffic area which made easier for me to hearthe public interactions as well as have accessto electric socket to chargemy laptop for making notes. The walls were paintedcoffee colored and had paintings on each wall showing the history of Starbucks.
Just after the entrance, onright side shelf, they had different typesof coffee packets which were highlighted from the high and bright ceiling lights and acounter in middle had all confectionary such as muffins, croissants, sandwiches, salad bowls, chipsand packed juices (see photo 2). Background Music was continuously playing at low volume, personally I didnot like their songs collection. There werethree girls working in the café wearing the same jet black T-shirt with the Starbucks logo and a green apron over it.One girl was at cashier counter, secondwas trained in making all types of coffees and the third one was cleaning,refilling the supplies and in between was helping the other girl in makingcoffees. Phenomena observedAs I was expecting, it was a busy evening for Starbucks. Iobserved an interesting pattern in 4 hours, most ofthe customers who ordered coffee were in a hurry to collectand leave while those staying in theStarbucks for long hours were less likely to buy any drink or food.
Majority ofcustomers age looked like middle aged between 25yrs – 40yrs with mostly teenagersor younger kids and students. Outside wasquite chilling temperature and majority of people were wearing casual attirewith mostly black overcoats, jackets, scarves along with either long shoes or sportsshoes especially Nike brand. Some people entered just to use the restrooms.
Therewere two sofa seats where two girls were sitting and discussing about theirschool activity in very loud pitch (see photo 3). Rest all seats were full withpeople who were working on their laptops. I observed that people who want tosit for long hours, preferred to grab a corner secluded seat rather than to share table with others.
Three personsbought Chipotle bowl to eat here as Chipotle store was adjacentto Starbucks. There was a long queue of people for collectingtheir orders and I saw few of their activities while waiting, like one personwas giving shoulder massage to his girlfriend, two boys were watching a videoon a single phone by sharing their headphones and rest of people were just standingand waiting for their drinks. At 8:35 pm, I observed a different scenario, a group of two people came to sit beside myseat and introduced themselves to each other. Then one person was explainingother about the working of apple laptop and he told him that he bought his laptopin $2900 but he giving it now in $1500. Also, he gave them a charging cable of$30 for free with this purchase. He mentioned that craigslist is best whichproves that they were strangers and met through classified advertisement websiteto finalize the laptop deal.
CommonThemes Majority of people who were sitting there for long hours, usingapple laptops and apple phones. Each of them were listening something throughearphones to avoid the outside disturbance. Most of the people had wirelessheadphones.
These people were more interested in taking free water from thecafé rather than ordering any drinks. I observed a very common theme in thesefour hours that people who were entering in group were smiling and talking toeach other while the one’s entering alone, didn’t smile for a single time.There was no smile and eye contact on the customer’s face while the employeegirls were quite happy and talking to each other with smile.
Cashier was verypolite with everyone and making eye contact. I could hear some common orders ofpeople like hot coffee, mocha, butterscotch with almond milk and drinks withgreen tea and raspberry flavors. Most population preferred to pay from creditcard than cash. Another point I noticed was mostly people entering the caféwere rotating a key chain in their first finger showing that they came fromtheir own vehicle. Personalreactions to common themes and phenomena observedAccording to my observation, around60-70% people were young people or students who like to visit Starbucks fortheir personal work. People prefer hot chocolate coffee than Frappuccino withlarge size cup. There is only small fraction of people who prefers to put extrasugar in their drinks.
Besides going for coffee or meals, people want to spendtheir leisure time in Starbucks. Emotionallypeople feel more connected with this place because it does not force people tobuy from them to sit there for long hours. Also, people use this place to meetunknowns to trade their used products because of convenience, safety andaccessibility. In addition, I observed that people are happier and lessstressful in the groups rather than being alone.
Financially and efficiently, Inoticed some drawbacks here that the average customer time during rush hourswas quite large and Starbucks may lose potential customers which can decreasetheir business. According to me, to overcome this problem, Starbucks canincrease and cross-train their staff to make both hot and cold beverages. Theycan also start a drive-through which would be very convenient for thecustomers. One more drawback I observed that there was no sign language for thepeople who have hearing disability. Starbucks really need a strategic planningto compete with the established vendors like “In & Out”, “McDonalds” etc.
Starbucks has always maintained its brand reputation by focusingmore on customer niche that is willing to pay more for higher customer servicesand that’s why even after few drawbacks, people have great faith in them.