Starbucks Business Research Methods III

Other pertained to the consumers preferred method of going to the Starbucks, such as whether the consumer usually patronized the same Starbucks; frequency of patronization; preference for taking out beverages vs. eating in; and the usual size of the consumers beverage. Finally, more subjective responses were requested, such as whether the stores customer service was good and the prices were fair.

Classification of findings

Findings were classified on a nominal basis, except for age and income. Because this was a small, preliminary survey, the responses and number were often merely recorded. For example, when asked how would you rate customer service at Starbucks, 17 responded excellent, 3 responded good, and none responded fair. Another type of ranking would have involved ranking the customer service experience from 1-5 (excellent-poor) and averaging the frequency of different responses (for example, what numbered rankings received the greatest number of responses). However, this was not chosen, as it was feared that the difference between a 1 and a 2 might be quite subjective, and not as meaningful as subjective responses to word-based rankings such as excellent or fair. The responses were not ranked as ordinals, merely recorded nominally, given that the ordinal ranking was fairly self-evident. Interval scales in terms of wait time for beverages were also not used because there was a relatively narrow framework of wait times. The majority of respondents (15) waited 2-4 minutes for drinks, and the remainder (5) waited 5-8 minutes. This relatively short time period may reflect the fact that the Starbucks used for the research has been in business for a fair amount of time and has mastered efficient drink preparation. Serving drinks quickly is a crucial part of the coffee business.

Ranking age and income ordinally yielded an interesting result: 6 consumers were in the youngest (18-25) demographic, and membership in the next two categories (25-35; 35-44) was equally distributed: both groupings contained 4 respondents.

The next category (45-54) was statistically insignificant in terms of difference from the previous two categories (3 customers, in total). Fewer older individuals patronized this Starbucks — there was only a single member in the 55-64 category and 2 individuals older than 65, a statistically insignificant difference. Income levels clustered in the low-to-medium bracket, with fewer (3 individuals) making below $25,000 and the majority making $25-$50,000 (7 in total, perhaps reflecting the youthfulness of the sampling). Numbers were relatively similar in the $50-$75,000 and $75,000-$100,000 demographics (4 in total and 5 in total, respectively). Only one respondent reported an income $100,000+.

This skewing to the more youthful and slightly less affluent suggests that younger people, despite the recent recession and the higher unemployment rates amongst the young are still patronizing Starbucks. The average consumer at this particular Starbucks also tends to eat in the cafe, come 3-5 times a week and orders a medium-sized beverage. This suggests that younger people come for a social experience, perhaps during their lunch hour or before work, to save time making their own coffee, but also to grab a bit of ambiance and me time. The so-called latte factor cutback does not appear to be impacting this Starbucks sales.


More research is needed to make this information useful. A wider demographic of consumers must be surveyed, to determine if different demographic profiles characterize the typical Starbucks customer at different times of the day. Starbucks may need to position its marketing relative to specific consumer segments and types of demand that manifest themselves over the course of the same day. However, this initial research indicates that young people continue to use the coffee chain as a popular social.

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