Starbucks has announced that it will be providing 2 free hours of consecutive wireless internet use per day to customers who use their Starbucks cards at least once a month. Translation: if you have a Starbucks card, which is free, and you drink at least one cup of coffee per month, you can go into any Starbucks in the world (by the end of 2008) and use the internet for 2 straight hours without being hassled by baristas or blocked out of the network.
I always go to Starbucks because I like to write and do works on my laptop outside. I would easily drink a cup of coffee per month and can afford the Starbucks card (anyway, it is free..LOL)
But I really hate it when they want to limit only 2 hours for the Internet use. So, if I drink 2 cup of coffees per month, am I eligible for 4 hours use? And is it like redemption thingy, like after I use the 2 hours connection, I have to drink another coffee to redeem 2 hours more the next day? I just wonder at what kind of stunt they are pulling. Kind of like Strategy A: we can get sales of 10 cup of coffee more per month, Strategy B: we can get each of the stupid people (I really do not know how many) to buy 1 more cup of coffee per month.
I really hope they would not implement that kind of control. I love Starbuck for the environment and the fact they are everywhere as I would not want to drive 10 km to get coffee. The coffee is great, but not the best so far. I prefer San Francisco’s actually.
Anyway, why they do this maybe due to 2 reasons:
First, from what I read in “The Undercover Economist” book, we are actually paying premium price for our coffees at places like Starbucks because of they are providing us with the environment. It does not cost them very much to make the coffee actually. So, I guess they are trying to say to us that we are not paying enough for the coffee because the coffee price actually includes the place where we are sitting (up to how many square feet we occupy), air-conditioning, the nice music and most of all, the Wifi-connection, which was introduced much later. So, it is another way of saying, we should pay for the Wifi connection because when they calculated and came out with the price for the coffee, they have not taken wifi-connection into consideration. So, assuming I am Starbucks top executive, I would think, how do we make our customers pay for the Wifi? If we increase the price for the coffee when the coffee price worldwide is not increasing, customers will f**k us. So, we have to be “creative”.
Second, I think it is a strategy from preventing people like me who usually hang out in Starbucks for more than 4 hours with just one cup of coffee (yes, I am cheapskate but at least I buy at least one cup. Size of Venti some more, what do they want?). Of course, by being there for more than 2 hours, the only thing they lose is another customer who can order a cup of coffee (yes, 1 more cup in sales) and sit at the place I am sitting. Place rental is always not cheap.
And remember the letter the Starbucks chairman, Howard Schultz sent out to warn of “the commoditization of the Starbucks experience”. He mentioned about “Push for innovation and do the things necessary to once again differentiate Starbucks from all others.”
Now, what an innovation Starbucks comes out with.
On additional notes, I just realize Starbucks is called Starbucks and not Starbuck, without the s behind. It really means that they are out not just to make one dollar or just an amount of money from you. They want lots and lots of money from you, your parents, your kids, your friends and whoever you know.