Sep 1, 2010

Starbucks tells you to eat it (with your eyes).

Me want Frappuccino. Me no want whip. Me want two straw!
In their apparent quest to reach the lowest common denominator, Starbucks has, yet again, reached a new low point. As I pulled up to a local Starbucks "drive-thru" speaker the other day, I found the normally expansive menu had been simplified. Like really simplified. The previous day it was a detailed list with nearly all possible foods, drink, sizes, and prices (or a "menu"). Now, it's been brought down to a list consisting of the following (picture above):
  • Four sections
    • Breakfast
    • Lunch  and Snacks
    • Espresso and Coffee
    • Cold Beverages
  • The two food sections only show eight possible selections
    • There was a bowl of oatmeal listed (remember, this is for the drive-thru)
    • There were no donuts on the list (what the what!?)
  • The two drink sections also showed only eight items
    • The only sizes listed are 'Grande' and 'Venti'; 'Tall' was, evidently, no longer available
    • You want a something like a hot chocolate or an iced latte? Nope

Mommy can I have the pancake in blackface?
When I first saw the new menu, I was confused (that happens a lot). Could I still order my typical 'iced vanilla latte'? It was not on the menu. But I tried anyway, and they said it was no problem. When I got to the window I asked about the new menu. She said it was some new thing 'corporate made us do' and that they had been explaining it to people all morning. She went on to assure me that all the stuff I was used to (iced lattes, donuts, etc) was still available, but we both agreed the menu redesign was ridiculous (the actual term she used was 'stupid'). The more I thought about it, the more I felt 'stupid' was a more appropriate word. The menu had been dumbed-down. It went from an accurate and inclusive list, to something akin to a kids menu at IHOP. Have you ever seen the movie 'Idiocracy'? It's a comedy, but maybe it's really a prophecy...

From what I read on Reuters, the change has come about because of one Clarice Turner. She is Starbucks’ senior vice president in charge of this so-called "menu makeover". The reasoning for the change was "people eat with [wait for it....] their eyes". Now, I'm no doctor, but I am pretty certain one could get serious cornea damage cramming a scone in their eye. Must be some of that 'corporate-speak' that I rarely understand. I imagine she went on to use terms like 'proactive', 'paradigm shift', and 'synergy'. It has all the markings of the classic 'solution looking for a problem' scenario (like the ergonomic stapler).

So, there it is. I predict that Starbucks store one day will have a costumed mascot to greet customers. It would be named something like 'Bucky' and look like a giant topless mermaid. Mark my words....

These will always be my favorite Starbucks anyway.


Ginny said...

You seriously just made me laugh out loud. So interesting that I was annoyed about the upsell and you were annoyed about the simplified supposedly idiot proof design. Either way, I love that you took the time to blog about it. Thanks for the link to the Reuters article too. I missed that when I did my search.

Anonymous said...

I hate this new menu. I like to see in 'text' what my options are. I was so irritated this morning when I pulled up to the new menu, I was lost at what to order. The cashier told me they had been having complaints all morning. So STUPID !!!

Vanessa said...

You made me laugh out loud too.......funny! And yes, I hate the new menu too. Glad they are changing it back, perhaps they did already...but at any rate, nice try Starbucks!

azulbug said...

I completely agree, my first thought was, "Wtf? I CAN READ! Are latte drinkers automatically stupid now?"
The dumbing-down of America is depressing me, plus I am running out of people to communicate with.