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February 2006



Hi Dan

Thank you for your comment.

I have never been in IKEA in the US. I Europe they are very succeful. It's a fact when the trading conditions on the market are downward and companies are cutting down. IKEA expands.


I assumed SB would NOT play Berkner. But, almost all the promo CD’s are store friendly. Like all the alanis morissette, Etta James, and Bob Dylan. So, yeah, Berkner is a bit of an oddity.

Jim: I think the exact opposite for IKEA. To me they seem VERY focused and consistent with crappy, knock-down furniture with a relaxed Swedish theme.

Jim Mortensen

I think there are to sides of every story for Starbucks point of view. I do agree it's a strange line extention. For retail point of view it may increase cross-selling to some extent. As a brand maybe it strenghen the brand as a more "living" brand and they get great PR by the way. Take IKEA for example in my eyes is a very "living" brand and they have great succes with it and are also a strong brand. They sell every thing from sausage, cookies, swedish meatballs, chocolate, furniture, plates, candles and customers love it. And they get a lots of PR every times. I think IKEA is built around a great "idea". Not just one focused line of furniture.
I do agree brands like coca-cola may strengthen their brand by being more narrowly focued. Since it's easier for them to launch a completely different brands like fanta, sprite and powerade since they already do have the distribution. I'm not sure it's the best solution for retailers. Hope for any comments.


Just to make it clear, I don't think Starbucks will ever be playing Laurie's music in the store. But if that it the case why sell it at all? If you are not going to play the music then you are admitting that it doesn't mix with the brand.

Branding is and always will be about what you own in the mind of the consumer. I agree that the experience is a very important part how the Starbucks brand was built. But so is the brand name, the fact they were first in the category and the fact they got exceptional PR and word of mouth. And yes, they have been out front with things like Soy milk and wi-fi, things that blend well with the brand.


Why promote the kids stuff? It is a signal that kids are welcome. That is a bad thing for the Starbucks brand. It would make more sense to promote something adult and cool like the Stones Rarities disc. Do they actually play Laurie’s disc in the store?

Peter Kim

I think your analysis of the Starbucks brand is flawed in that it presupposes that marketers still control their brands. Branding today is about customer experience and ceding control as much as projecting an image through targeting and positioning.

Maybe a "cooler" distribution deal would have been to coordinate with the release of Soderbergh's "Bubble" - but regarding the experience, if people buy a DVD (or CD), they most likely wouldn't consume in the store anyway, preserving your idea of "adult sanctuary."

SBUX has been quite on trend with things like wi-fi and soy milk. You might remember them carrying Cranium, too - a "smarter" kind of game. Berkner's DVD fits the same distribution strategy.

Paul Hotze

This is absurd. Give me a break. Seriously people, you have got to be joking me. It is not like Starbucks is changing their core product. If they started selling smoothies or a non-fat soy Laurie Berkner I would be concerned. Also, they aren't playing this CD in their stores either.....thank god because instead of people "going Postal" they would be "going Starbucks." The CDs in their store are an eclectic mix. I guarantee that these non-core products make up 5% of their sales. Now granted this Laurie Berkner, of whom I have never heard of until this blog, does not fall into line with the type of music they play there. I still don't think that this is the end.
As for sandwiches (did I spell that write??) being sold in their stores, I certainly appreciate that. When I was in Grad school in Austin, I would study at Starbucks or Seattle's Best, both of which sold sandwhiches (I'm swhiching it up hear) and in all honesty I appreciated it. They were delicious. However, You should be afraid, be very, very afraid if they start grilling hamburgers or hot dogs there.
Ladies, that is all I got.

Hugs and kisses,
The Hotz(e)


The beauty behind the Starbucks brand was the cult like following they had. It was like a counter culture where people could escape the realism of the world. My question is; If it ain’t broke why fix it?

Why damage the customer experience of many for the gaining of an additional minor niche market.

Brand is an identity a promise and an expectation. Customer experiences are the delivery and interaction with the brand so what the hell are they doing? They now risk loosing a large population segment that drove their brand to where it is now.

I don't know about you people out there, but I certainly go to Sarbucks to be reminded of what Mcdonalds is like. My kids do that just fine.


I think what was meant by boring is sticking to one great idea and not changing it. BMW focusing on driving for 30 years is boring, but it is also powerful branding. What you do to build a brand is have an exciting idea, what you do to maintain a brand is keep it focused. In-and-Out Burger is a great example of that. Once you have that "WOW" idea, best to stick with it and not tinker.

Steve Liberati

Great branding should be boring??

Yeah, maybe if you're K-Mart and you completely lost hope.

Not - if your a big or small company trying to "wow" customers and succeed in the marketplace.

In fact I'd say, boring is the exact formula for failure.

Could you imagine pitching that idea to the executives at Target, JetBlue, or Apple. "Let's try our best to be boring. Besides, we already own our category anyway."

I'm sure they would laugh their asses off. I know I would.


As long as Starbucks is a public company, and Wall Street demands growth at any cost, unfortunately this sort of thing will continue.

Great branding should be boring. You focus on the same thing, over and over and over and you own the niche (i.e. the private west coast chain In-N-Out which has a cult like following selling only what they are good at making - burgers, fries and shakes).

Starbucks reminds me of a kid with a chemistry set, constantly tinkering with different formulas. I hope the brand stays intact.


Great comments!

Starbucks is becoming more like McDonald's but not in the good sense. They are busy chasing non-core trends (music, hot sanwiches, bottled drinks, ice cream, supermarket sales) and not spending enough time watching the store. I predict store quality will diminish in the future if the nonsense keeps up. Just as what happened at McDonald's as they chased chicken, pizza, fish, veggie burgers etc.

The other thing to remember is the target is not necessarily the same as the market. The target of Starbucks is the sophisticated adult coffee drinker looking for a relaxing sanctuary. The market is everyone from teenagers, to nannies, to grandpas looking for a java fix.

Some of the extensions like ice cream are licensing deals no doubt and probably drain little in terms of resources. But the bigger picture is that Starbucks is spending way too much time in the board room thinking "what else can we sell with this great brand?"

I would gladly participate in a Laurie marshmellow stoning. All the kids stuff drives me nuts. Just tell me where to show up with my white bombs.

Paul Hotze

Ugh! I would LOVE to stone Laurie Berkner to death with a dump truck full of marshmallows. This lady makes my ears bleed every time she sings. I absolutely agree that she has no business pushing her CD through Starbuck's. What the hell was corporate thinking? However, I walked into Starbucks this morning and noticed her CD being displayed at the checkout. While she is obnoxious and all, I don't think this is death to the Starbucks brand.

What was a terrible decision on their part was the music kiosks they had set up in their stores. Como se dice "itunes?" Whose knuckle head idea was that? Someone must have overdosed on their stupid pills that day. What they should have done is create somes sort of partnership with iTunes. Of course we are all brilliant marketers when we can look back a year or so down the road and point out the obvious. Steven, I like your idea. It makes much much sense to this pasty, white, red-headed boy in Texas.

I really didn't think that their movement into ice cream was all that bad of an idea. It makes more sense than the music kiosks. Afterall, they ARE somewhat of a food company.

That's all I got for you ladies.

Peace and chicken grease,
The Hotz(e)


I think it's quite funny that the management ego is imbibed in a company's marketing strategy. It really takes a great deal of humility and discipline to focus a company's niche. This simply shows that when a niche or a position occupied in the mind of a consumer has been dominated by a company's brand, their conquer-the-rest-of-the-world mentaltiy drives them.

Steve Liberati

I think johnmoore over at Brand Autopsy got it right when he showed the strikingly odd similarities between Starbuck's and McDonald's. He pointed out two ways Starbucks is becoming more McDonald’s-like – OPERATIONS and the “McRib Mentality.”
He can read the full post here:


I guess we can now add another similiarity to the list.

What ashame. When good brands go bad...

steven edward streight aka vaspers the grate

Ray's observation that it would work in an Upper East Side Starbucks belies the real point: the marketing people who dreamed up this nightmare *probably* all go to that Upper East Side Starbucks, and not the one I go to in Peoria, IL.

If I were a popular musician, I'd do Special Starbucks Only CDs, that you had to buy only in a Starbucks, and not available anywhere else.

In exchange, I'd get a lifetime of free coffee, and cool mugs.

I love Starbucks. They have ice cream now? Ohno.


It might dilute the brand but I doubt it. At certain hours in some of the Starbucks that I have been to in NYC (especially the Upper East Side), it is anything but an adult sanctuary. Sometimes there are so many moms and nannies with their charges and double-wide strollers, you are lucky if you can find a seat. In addition, sometimes with all of the teens and tweens, it is more like the malt or soda shop of the 50's. I think this is one of the reasons they have deiced to leverage the value of their traffic and give selling a kids music a shot. I don't think they would be doing this if they saw that the same ratio of their customers belonged to the biker or hip-hop culture. I doubt they will start playing Laurie’s stuff, but just stick to selling it and counting on impulse buying.

Dennis D. Balajadia

Oh My.

A fitting response to the dangerous move Starbucks is doing. I think a lot of it has to do with getting away with the smaller stuff.

Due to their HUGE success and their great margins, Starbucks decided to try its magic on ice cream, alcoholic coffee beverage, bottled frap, music, CD burning stations. Some of them succeeded, some of them failed... but kids' music?

I think what the people in this company shouId do is to go back and remember who they are. As a customer it's getting to be tiring seeing them running around putting their green logo on unrelated things. I hear that they will soon be in the movie business. A big HUH??? to that!

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