. The Transom .

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

A Starbucks for the rest of us

So McDonald's decided to open up coffee bars inside its stores to compete with Starbucks for high end coffee experiences.

Pause for laughter, I mean reflection.

On the surface this looks like a pretty bonehead move by Ronald and Co. Big Mac's and Caffe Latte's go together about as well as democrats and republicans. Technically they are both digestible, but you wouldn't consume too many, and certainly not at the same time. And they both can give you upset stomach.

But back to the food products. On the surface, I equate this to Tiffany's putting in a drive-thru window in their stores. Ritz-Carlton putting a sign out front that says 'Buses Welcome.' Maybe even Nike changing their slogan to "Just Try a Little Harder." You just won't see it.

However, when you dig a little deeper it isn't a completely ridiculous play on the part of McDonald's. While I doubt McD's will steal a substantial number of regular Starbuckers, they might attract the Starwannabes. We might not be able to play golf like Tiger Woods, but we can wear the same Nike shirt. Same concept for McDonald's. They will attract the emulators.

I happen to think this move will go over as well as the Hula Burger, but I've been wrong once or twice before. It's just a hard fight when you try to mix apples and oranges. Or the sophisticated coffee shop with the dirty kid infested playgrounds serving wafer-thin burgers. But who knows. Maybe we'll see the turtleneck wearing sophisticates planting themselves in McD's sipping a latte and wolfing down a Big Mac while they search for the WiFi.

4 Comments:

  • Considering that McDonald’s has spent a substantial amount of time branding the company as the "affordable" coffee provider these last few years, I find it interesting that the company would now want to create an atmosphere in its stores that resembles Starbucks. Merely coining this new set up "McCafe" leads consumers to expect a Starbucks-like experience. So did McDonald's try to fight the coffee culture and lose? Did the company decide a café with specialty drinks was not actually the big bad wolf they had been painting it as through their advertising? The whole thing leaves a bad taste in my mouth (no pun intended). If McDonald's believes it can create raving fans of its new café after that marketing campaign I think the company will be disappointed. Perhaps McDonald's needs an identity check… stick to the Big Macs and Happy Meals. I recommend the hot fudge sundae.

    By Anonymous sarah, at Wednesday, January 09, 2008 9:07:00 AM  

  • Does everyone in PR have their mind so far removed from reality that they can't see a good idea when it's right in front of them? It seems to me that all of you need to hide behind aphorisms of questionable merit and thinly veiled sarcasm.

    Why do you think that McDonald's, by creating a new type of cafe, is out to destroy Starbucks and steal their customer base? Are all of you too blind to realize that 90% of the people who sit in a Starbucks would never eat at a McDonald's anyway? Starbucks "users" go to the cafe for the experience. Be it to read, chat, or study. Starbucks has successfully conjured up this type of image, from which it has benefited greatly. The people who go to McDonald's go there to eat. Coffee is usually a drive thru option at best. Maybe instead of being a competitor to Starbucks, McDonald's is just trying to differentiate itself further from its real competitors...Burger King, Wendy's, etc. Knowing that you can actually sit down with your coffee in a relaxed, slightly upscale environment might draw some people away from the other fast food chains. It won't, however, bring them away from Starbucks.

    Just think: the fact that McDonald's (potential) customers might expect a more elevated type of experience might draw them away from the rest of the disgusting quagmire that is our fast food industry.

    By Anonymous The non-Ostrich, at Friday, January 11, 2008 6:30:00 PM  

  • Non-Ostrich....

    It might help to do a little research before spouting off. If you read any story about the idea, (I recommend the WSJ) you'll clearly see that yes, McD's does in fact want to compete head to head with Starbucks. Will they ever recreate the 'experience' as you mention, of a Starbucks? Of course not. But they do want Starbucks customers to start getting their lattes at McD's. And as for the 90% of customers you claim wouldn't eat at McD's... how many soccer mommies do you think make two drive-thru runs these days. One for the kids at McD's and one for mommy at Starbucks. Now she gets to make one stop. You don't think Ronald and Co. thought of that?

    You are right about one thing. This will, or should, draw fast food freaks to McD's from its competitors because of the new concept. Will they stay? Time will tell.

    By Blogger Rob Amberg, at Friday, January 11, 2008 6:58:00 PM  

  • You should read this:

    http://conversationstarter.hbsp.com/2008/01/why_mcdonalds_new_coffee_strat.html

    By Anonymous Richard, at Friday, February 08, 2008 6:45:00 AM  

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