McDonalds and Starbucks Convergence
Recent news about the very different financial conditions of McDonalds and Starbucks, is only part of the
story. McDonald's Expects to Post Its First-Ever Loss is like waking up to hear that no one watched the Superbowl. Starbucks brews record profits comes as more of a surprise, at first look; but actually reveals more about our current society than Ronald
McDonald growing old.
Ordering an Egg McMuffin and an overly hot coffee always seems to be a sensible and normal habit. And who
could deny nature when it comes to those fries? Most knew that those Big Mac’s would cause bloating, and should
be avoided; but who could resist that creamy dessert when leaving after a rest room pit stop? This is America and McDonalds
is red, white and blue!
Now Starbucks is a very different phenomenon, more reminiscent of a poor man’s French cafe without the
ambiance, but the high prices. Urban locations don’t guarantee urbane service. Rare blends don’t ensure uncommon
satisfaction. And Ally McBeal patrons don’t insure that you will go home with Bon Jovi. So what is the appeal to secure
a second mortgage to drink this Java?
Maybe the answer lies in the success that McDonalds had in indoctrinating the youth of Generation X, who have
become the customers of the “thirty-something” Starbucks contemporaries. Or maybe the ‘Coffee Clash’ pursuit gives the real low down.
My one friend, 25-year-old Carrie, who is so cool, says Tony Bennett is goofy, and she wanted to go to
Midnite Expresso, the grunge brew house on Second Street in Long Beach.
My other friend, 35-year-old, pony-tailed Diane, who feels really racy when she tears down Bellflower
Boulevard in her purple Plymouth Voyager, wanted to go to Starbucks Coffee.
Carrie said she did not want to go to the upscale coffee shop and be around a bunch of 40-year-olds who
waste their disposable income on Arabian Mocha Sanani.
She said Starbucks customers say they shop at Nordstrum, but in reality, they buy their cotton Dockers
at Mervyns. She criticized the CD collection they store in their Eddie Bauer Jeep Cherokees as phony.
After such a stinging tongue lashing, who am I to judge the attraction that bring in all the cash to sip cappuccino
- with an extended little finger! No, we will settle upon a dissection of what made those McDonalds kiddies trade in the playpen
slides for the stools at the coffee bar. The value meal was a menu of fair cost, if not inspired cuisine. Their soccer
moms would rush, order and park at the drive through in their minivans to keep the little darlings content if not satisfied.
Home cooked vittles were a special treat with all the different time schedules for dad, youngsters and mummy. Fast foods meant
immediate gratification. Success was measured by rising incomes, career advancements, community involvements and extra dance
group sessions or little league games. Time was the only limiting factor. All else was possible.
After such an idyllic upbringing the offspring’s of team McDonalds naturally aspired to holiday at Club
Med. The pressure of being perfect, lead to the desire of attaining perfection. Starbucks became the replacement for the local
tavern. What was missing in family social interaction in their teens would be made up at the salon, not the saloon. Alcohol
intake was passé, only resolving the - taste great or less filling - debate was worth the interaction. Hip was defined
as chic, and needed to be expensive. The café decor, repartee and taste of coffee fulfilled the sense of loss from an empty
Now before you conclude that McDonalds is responsible for spilling and scalding that over heated coffee on
more then dementia challenged old bags, look to the parents who raised their children to demand the taste for that caffeine
stimulant. If the golden arches are on hard times, maybe the temptation for parents to warehouse their prodigy with action
figures may subside. With any luck, mom might even teach her brood to savor the family unit and not play victim to her own
fabricated guilt of falling short from being a super woman. The next generation might just find Starbucks to be pompous and
shallow. Then maybe the trend of that demitasse logo may just stop appearing on every corner.
Or is this just wishful thinking? According to a popular source, it is reported that:
"Starbucks has completed the coffee-distribution and location establishment
phase of its operation, and is now ready to move into Phase Two,"
read a statement from Cynthia Vahlkamp, Starbucks' chief marketing officer. "We have enjoyed furnishing you with coffee-related
beverages and are excited about the important role you play in our future plans. Please pardon the inconvenience while we
fortify the second wave of our corporate strategy."
This account continues:
"Though the coffee chain's specific plans are not known, existing Starbucks
franchises across the nation have been locked down with titanium shutters across all windows. In each coffee shop's door hangs
the familiar Starbucks logo, slightly altered to present the familiar mermaid figure as a cyclopean mermaid whose all-seeing
eye forms the apex of a world-spanning pyramid."
You say what? DARVA CONGER meets DARPA’s Total Information Awareness - over a (TIA) System coffee! Only at a
Starbucks would you find such interesting company . . .
This report concludes:
"To our valued Starbucks customer: Just wait until you see the exciting changes
we've got in store for you as part of our new Phase Two. When you finally see what we've got brewing here at Starbucks, you'll
have no choice but to love it."
Wow, after that no more Java for me! Wonder how many yuppies might feel
the same way? But if you look at it from a different angle, all those new government security employees will have that extra
disposible income to blow on Espresso, while they keep their ears open, keeping us safe. Yes, it is a brave new world,
from whence our kids feed on happy meals to working wenches peeping on suspects while drinking a latte. No wonder the only
growth industry supports Starbucks . . . For old folks like ourselves, we will stick with treats which we know to be consistent,
chunky and natural. Know from where your whip cream comes from or you might end up on the wrong end. McDonalds will get back
to the beef, while Starbucks will continue to sell fluff.
SARTRE - January 26, 2003