Starbucks Closure Good for Getting Press, Bad for Sending Positive Message

Last Updated Mar 17, 2008 3:02 PM EDT

Following up on the Catching Flack post about Starbucks' 3-hour closure to train staff on making a better cup of coffee: a new study out reports that while most consumers knew about the closure, few knew why Starbucks had closed.

Advertising Age reports that a study by Aegis Group's research arm Synovate found in a survey of 1,000 consumers that 75% of respondents knew of the closing, but that less than half knew the reason for the closure.

From Ad Age: Ed Murphy, VP-U.S. retail and restaurant group at Synovate, attributed this to consumers reading headlines rather than full stories, and said Starbucks was not "driving home" the message of quality and service. "Essentially," he said, the event "had very little impact on the consumer."
From a story by QSR Magazine: Very few customers thought that the closings would have a positive impact in the long run as only 3 percent said the closings prove that Starbucks is improving service. Murphy says, "Understandably, Starbucks wanted to avoid revealing the store closings in advance. However, in the days leading up to the closings, they may have missed a good opportunity to repeatedly emphasize their commitment to providing superior customer service."
Once again, we are reminded of the power of messaging. Had Starbucks done a much better job of communicating to customers before, during and after the closure, their stunt might have had a much greater impact than simply generating media awareness. It might have actually changed perceptions and the behaviors of their customers.
  • Jon Greer

    Jon Greer has been analyzing media and PR for more than 25 years. He's been a journalist and a PR executive, and has been a featured speaker for many years at the Bulldog Reporter Media Relations Summit, and served as Bulldog's Editorial Director for their PR University series of weekly how-to audio conferences.

    Jon provides PR services including media relations and freelance writing to clients including start-ups, law firms, corporations, investment banks and venture capital firms. In addition, Jon provides spokesperson training. Learn more about Jon's training programs at The Media Bridge.