Is Starbucks the next McDonald's?

Two weeks ago, I wrote a post about Starbucks trying to rediscover their customer through a reinvigorated 'Starbucks Experience'. The latest updates put Starbucks and McDonald's on a collision trajectory into the same market. It makes me wonder what the 'Starbucks Experience' will truly become.

Things have gotten a little strange at Starbucks in the past year or so as something that looks suspiciously like an Egg McMuffin began taking up precious space in their display cabinet. Last week, USA Today reported that Starbucks is test-marketing $1 cups of coffee with free refills in some of their Seattle stores. I haven't heard any announcements about Starbucks adding a play ground at selected locations, but you never know. Meanwhile, McDonald's recently announced plans to add coffee bars to nearly 14,000 stores in the U.S., so things are about to get really onfusing.

Here's a picture of my cup of coffee at Starbucks this morning. (I wish it was only a $1 with free refills!) My 'Starbucks Experience' was a little bland, but certainly not terrible.
  • The tables in chairs in many stores are a bit worn and this store is no exception. They remind me a bit of my desk back in grade school.
  • The employees working there were cordial and friendly, but there was nothing particularly special about there service. There just isn't a lot of time for chit-chat when the next person in line needs their double mocha latte!
  • I brought some work with me and planned to lounge for awhile, but it just didn't feel like a good environment for that today.

Any business needs to decide who it will be to its customers and then operate as closely and consistently to that vision as possible. I'm not sure who Starbucks wants to be anymore. Are they a convenience? An indulgence? An experience? They certainly can't be everything to everyone, but its becoming increasingly unclear who they are. I just hope they figure it out soon, because there are four Starbucks locations within 10 minutes of my house.