What Brand Disappointment Looks Like

This morning I headed down to Hoboken for a few errands and walked into the Starbucks on River Street. My first task was finding the bag of coffee beans I wanted amongst the similarly packaged bags. No bags of Sumatra. No bags below in storage and none in the back I’m told. Okay, I guess I’ll buy Casi Cielo which is another flavor I like.

I ask them to grind it for Turkish style. Thankfully the grinder was working, as many times in the past it wasn’t or would not go to that fineness.

starbucks in hoboken

Photograph from TheBokenOnline.com

I have my own Starbucks gold card which I earned from shopping there over the years. When I first received it I thought it was a great rewards system. Free coffee refills; every 12 cups, one free; and whenever I buy a bag, a free tall coffee to go with it. Today, at first, they wouldn’t give me the free coffee and told me the rewards have changed. But they realized I didn’t know and showed me a newly reprinted rewards promotion piece.

Starbucks has cut back. I walked out of that store with a sour taste in my mouth.

I started thinking about what a giant global brand like Starbucks has to do to stay on “brand” and satisfy customers and whether it’s right to change the rules of engagement after you’ve already launched a program. Is corporate greed the new “brand” message? Instead of loving the products and walking out happy and sipping away, I walked out disappointed. All I could think was we pay and pay, and they raise prices, and even when they try to reward us, they can’t follow through.

Are there other global brands who have done something similar you’d like to share?

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3 thoughts on “What Brand Disappointment Looks Like

  1. Mary C. Weaver, CSCS

    Disappointing and really dumb, for a brand that’s supposed to be so good at cultivating customer love and loyalty!

    Wonder whether the company considered keeping the “old” rewards cards on the same plan and changing the rules only for new cards. That would have made more sense.

  2. admin Post author

    Hi Mary, I just don’t know what they were thinking. To change the rewards program once people are accustomed to certain things is not thinking smart, just thinking cheap. – Susan

  3. John Crittenden

    This is why I think loyalty programs are more trouble than they’re worth to the consumer, unless perhaps if it involves some product or store that one uses every day of one’s life. Duane Reade drug store revised its rewards program so that you only get rewarded for buying what’s on sale or featured, not on everything one buys. It’s the third revision in four years. I only participate because I walk past the store every workday and have my prescriptions filled there every month or so. Now I pull the little card from my wallet only to be told the item I’m purchasing isn’t covered. So much aggravation for the big wow I get for cashing in my points to buy a tube of toothpaste every 9 months or so. Like so much else in “marketing,” the appeal is to one of the least attractive aspects of human nature — the whee in getting something “free.”

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