Turns out blending coffee with international politics leaves a bitter taste with customers. So Starbucks discovered this year when they pledged to hire 10,000 refugees as a symbolic middle finger to the carrot-toned commander in chief. It likely was a jolt to the java king, after years of shoving cultural agendas down American’s throats (taking positions on gay marriage, guns and the failed “talk about race” swill) with nary a backlash. Not so this time…
Since the January 29th hiring announcement, Starbucks’ consumer perception levels fell by two-thirds, as measured by YouGov BrandIndex’s Buzz score (“If you’ve heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth, was it positive or negative?”).
The backlash may hit the bottom line too: two days before Starbucks’ announcement, 30% of consumers said they’d consider buying from Starbucks the next time they wanted to buy coffee, the highest it’s been since last March. The percentage is now down to 24%, matching last August’s levels.
Allow me to venture a theory as to why bean grinders at Buckstars are feeling the espresso steam. Yes, I’m trying to get in as many coffee puns as I can jam into a puck. Deal with it. Whereas the barista band’s forays into gay marriage or guns were irksome, they hardly presented a danger to national security. The “Let’s talk about race baby, let’s talk about you and me” cup convo, while patronizing, provided more laughs than suicide bombs. Incidentally, that entire campaign blew up in their faces.
But telling their customers they’d hire refugees, whom many in America would rather not have in their country much less asking how many pumps in your latte? Customers bristled. After all, Starbucks is less known for its sumptuous brews (the coffee is hardly superior) and more for the ambiance. Starbucks isn’t where you go to enjoy great coffee, it’s just where you go. Starbucks is less about coffee, more about a gathering space. Agree?
So for peeps who’d prefer not to support a company who’s decided to buck national security? They might brew their beans in the comfort of their homes. Sans shoes, sans pants, sans patronizing lecture. The falling popularity of Starbucks is but a reflection of that sentiment. In my opinion, that is.
Also, where are these refugees going to hang their hijabs? Few bleeding hearts are willing to take them in…