Living the Starbucks Experience

By Anaëlle DANICAN

Entering a Starbucks is like entering a new world, a different dimension, where customers can be the better version of themselves.

This starts from the moment customers push the door of the Starbucks’ coffee shop.


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Indeed, from this moment Starbucks is trying its best to create a connection with customers and customize the interaction with them.

It all starts with a “hi”, an eye-contact or a smile. Asking the customers about their names is part of Starbucks Strategy that would make the customers feel noticed and enlighten their day. Instead of being numbers like at McDonald’s for instance, at Starbucks customers feel humanized and recognized for what they worth, or at least what they would want to worth.

Starbucks is all about customers’ social experience. Indeed, the brand wants its coffee shops to be seen as “third places”, refuges between home and work, safe havens where everybody would feel welcomed. It is presented as a place for social interactions, where people meet, chat, over a nice cup of coffee.

Starbucks is also about the sensorial and emotional experience. This is conveyed through the coffee shops’ interior design: The lights, the sofas, the chairs, the roundtables are made so that customers never feel lonely. The coffee smells and the music entering the shops are already putting the customers into the mood. The customer is about to have a great experience. Moreover, the coffee shops’ schedules are also made so that customers never feel thrown out of the stores. Indeed, as long as there are people inside, Starbucks “refuges” never close.

All of Starbucks brand partnerships are done to make people stay. When Starbucks partnered with Barnes & Nobles, the biggest library chain in the US, customers had the possibility to read books or newspapers while savoring a delicious coffee. Likewise, the partnership with Swisscom in Switzerland gave customers free WIFI access while enjoying a social interaction at Starbucks coffee shop, and the partnership with Spotify allows customers to have access to the “greatest” music playlist ever.

Besides, Starbucks is also about a learning experience. Being a Starbucks’ customer allows you to have some basis of coffee knowledge. In addition to that, to be able to order your coffee at Starbucks, you need to master a specific jargon, that relies mostly on Italian vocabulary. “Tall, Grande, Venti…” are all means to make the customer believe that being a Starbucks’ customer is an added value, that being part of the Starbucks community is a vivid proof of how well you have fared in life. Some people even buy Starbucks coffees to reward themselves for they work, like an extra-pleasure. This is well-linked to Starbucks’ loyalty strategy: Starbucks Rewards.

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Thanks to this loyalty system, Starbucks differentiates the widespread status from the gold status, to increase even more the idea of being part of a VIP community when you are considered as a gold member. For instance, the holders of The Starbucks Rewards Visa Cards automatically get the gold status.


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However, the Starbucks experience goes well beyond the coffee shop itself. This strategy of customization is also consistent on Starbucks’ online and digital platforms.

Indeed, when connecting online on, the website is still asking customers about themselves, in order to find the coffee that perfectly matches their personality (as it can be seen on the screen captures below).

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If I try it myself, I decide that I am someone who is balanced and easy-going, who takes coffee on a busy day, whose favorite flavor is cocoa and who love to try something new and different, I will be recommended with the House Blend range.

We see again that Starbucks is opened to everyone, even people who are not familiar with coffee consumption. To strengthen the same idea, the mobile app Starbucks Coffee Passport allows customers to integrate coffee knowledge and explore the world by experiencing different coffee tastes. The purpose is simple: choose a region, taste the different coffees and take pictures of it to remember this experience. Each time you taste a different coffee style or taste, you are rewarded with a “stamp”.

Starbucks is then an ongoing experience for the customers. Online as well as offline, Starbucks is all about enhancing the interactions with the clients. The customers are never replete because there is still this sense of discovery, and because every day, everywhere, every time, people want to be considered.

Starbucks is thus offering this gift to its customers, even though it is just a tiny part of the day. That is what living the Starbucks experience is about.




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