Starbucks’ ‘No Need to Buy Coffee’ Policy Review

Canada’s Starbucks retail market has gained a boost with the ‘no need to buy coffee’ policy at Starbucks. According to the retail news, people will be free to sit and have a good time at Starbucks. Buying a coffee will not be incumbent upon the visitors if they decide to hang out with friends and enjoy being in some nice place. All a visitor has to take care of is that he/she should refrain from disturbing or legally prohibited actions. 

Starbucks is a very popular brand. It is known for selling very high-quality coffee. A vast majority of the people who go to Starbucks belong to the young generation. They are likely to visit Starbucks frequently and spend time there with their friends. Starbucks Canada, knowing this, created two new stores at locations of high strategic significance. The stores are close to the college and are located in a very beautiful scene and setting.

Starbucks took this step successfully because it was aware of the functionality of the human mind. This is not a strategically informed decision because this is likely to affect the ambiance and professional service of Starbucks. There will be many people in the cafes, whereas the actual number of customers maybe half of the population of people present.

However, when looked at from a strategic and marketing perspective, this is a very good decision. The first purpose it serves is of marketing. People mostly use smartphones these days, and there are all sorts of social networking sites and social media platforms installed in smartphones. People like to share their locations with their friends and family members over social media when they visit places like Starbucks, even if they don’t buy anything from there. This serves as a motivation for others to visit Starbucks as well.

Another way this strategy benefits Starbucks is by transforming the nonpaying visitors into actual buyers. The biggest instigator of purchase is exposure to the product or service. Sitting in the Starbucks café, surrounded by all sorts of cappuccinos and lattes, many people end up buying a cup or two even if they had never entered the café with this in their mind. At the very least, a person can order a bottle of mineral water. And of course, once a person becomes a new customer of the café – there is a great possibility for him/her to become a returning customer because he/she may fall in love with the unique blend of taste and ambiance.

One risk of this business strategy is that Starbucks may run out of space in the cafes. The place may be filled up with people who are actually not customers, or even if they are, not as frequent or heavily spending customers as others who are looking for a seating arrangement but not finding one. There may as well surface issues of privacy. Many students are likely to come to Starbucks in groups regularly. There may be very limited space left for the families of couples to enjoy their snacks and meals inside the cafes.

 Another potential risk that the top management may have to deal with is the breach of discipline. With too many guests and visitors in the cafes, the management has to face an increased possibility of initiation of indecent or disturbing actions by one or more individuals in the lounges. The problem can be anything ranging from a picture that a person clicks from another person sitting nearby using a cellphone searching for essay writer services without permission to conflicts over the occupation of space.

Even though the strategy comes with a decision that any person found disturbing others will be removed from the café, it’s easier said than done. When the management has to practically deal with such a person or group of people in the lounge, the encounter can be far louder and bitter than what is foreseen by the management. There will be resistance and retaliation from the individuals being asked to leave, which in turn will generate an unpleasant experience for the audience.

The solution of these risks is for Starbucks to plan and manage the space before implementing the strategy prudently. One way to achieve that is by the division of space according to set categories. There should be defined sections for students, singles, couples, and families. Wherever possible, Starbucks should also provide an option for the male and female visitors to be seated separately. With proper planning and follow-up, this business strategy can prove very useful both for increasing the clientele and strengthening the marketing of Starbucks.

Lee Rivett