Let me start by saying that this assessment I am going to make is lame and one-eyed, simply because I see those who do go but I do not see those who don't. However, I dare say it walks and sees. I once asked an American guy seated next to me in an airport lounge, how many Starbuckses he thinks there are in the US. He was surprised by the question. "I don't know, never thought of it, probably 10 or 20 thousands? Not sure," he said. I guess he was close and probably the correct answer is somewhere in between.
He wasn't expecting my second question. "What will happen if Americans wake up one morning and there are no Starbuckses?" I asked. He paused for a while, maybe concerned to even think about it, even it was only an assumption.
"I can't imagine that but I guess they will just keep going to whatever place they are going to," he said. I, myself, got into the habit. Whenever I am in America, especially if I am not accompanied by my wife, can't start my day without going to Starbucks early morning. It is amazing how many different ages, old and young, men and women, locals and visitors, employee and employers, who flock to Starbucks the whole day. To me, Starbucks is an example of a well-researched and well-managed business, and that is why it became almost part of everyone's life in America.
Probably everyone is not exact, and that is why I qualify my assessment as lame and one-eyed. I certainly do not know how many people who do not start their day in a Starbucks, but I certainly can see Starbucks everywhere in America, and can see the long lines all day long whenever I am in a Starbucks. I have been thinking about it. Successful business is the one that identify a need and meet that need skillfully. Starbucks is no doubt a successful business, then, what needs it met skillfully?
The obvious to me is that many people, me included, do not take breakfast at home, or prepare one and take it to office. Therefore, they need to buy, on the way, something quick, delicious and reasonably priced. I also have seen business discussions, tutoring and social gatherings, which is normal in every café. Starbucks went beyond coffee and breakfast and it has now light food and drinks that suits all the day.
But there are the less-obvious needs. People, students included, enjoy working when they are among other people. Alone, at home, somehow people give up quickly when they are working on a paper or a research or even a work-related assignment. Others because of that TV documentary or hanging out with friends could not finish an assignment requested by the boss. No problem, come to Starbucks, we are open at 5 am, we have internet and sockets to charge your laptop, plus a fresh coffee that can neutralize whatever you have done last night.
I believe, and this is a purely personal opinion, that Starbucks came out as a breakthrough to the American individualism and loneliness. Many Americans live alone and there might be a hidden reason for many people to break this loneliness by going to Starbucks and feeling the gift of being surrounded by people. As I write this article, I am in America, in a Starbukcs, enjoying being surrounded by people and able to finish many other writings. I am indeed convinced now, not only Americans but visitors as well, are wondering what will happen if one day they wake up and found no Starbucks.
Hamad S Alomar