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Starbucks Depth Interview Report


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Starbucks Depth Interview Report

  1. 1. Christopher Mowbray Depth Interview Analysis & Report Mkt 319 Prof Bao October 2nd 2008
  2. 2. The interviewee that was chosen for this depth interview assignment was Saimah Musvee, a twenty year old Suffolk University female student with a passion for Starbucks. Saimah is an international student in which she resides in India when she is not at school. She has helped enormously with the understanding of what behaviors go through people’s minds when it comes to choosing what kind of coffee they like to have. I have gained some interesting information and a new possible hypothesis of why Starbucks has closed over 1000 stores in the United States within the past month. I personally chose Saimah because she proves to have the characteristics of what Starbuck’s main customers are going to be in the future; business working men and women who cannot go throughout their day without a coffee. Her attitudes towards Starbucks most likely are magnified by millions of people in the world. The interview took process in the Sawyer business library in an enclosed room, free of others opinions and very private so that she could express her full opinions without pressure. The first types of process that I implemented were some projective techniques such as word association and sentence completion. This test was provided to her before she had any information about what the interview was all about. After going through the word association I already felt that I was going to receive some very valid and helpful data. When I expressed the company Starbucks she quickly replied with “coffee”. But when I expressed the company Dunkin Donuts she crunched her face and said “Gross”. I was very curious to find out more about why she feels this way. Something that I found interesting was how I said the word Escalade; a very high end expensive vehicle with luxurious features, and she replied with “car”. I was expecting to hear the words “expensive” or “luxurious”. This type of behavior could hint at the fact that she is not price sensitive which could be a huge factor in this research study. With the sentence completion process I was able to get some personal information out of her that may involuntarily show advantages to why she chooses Starbucks over Dunkin Donuts or any other
  3. 3. competing coffee distributor. For example, I uncovered out of this technique how she loves coffee that is strong and never usually eats breakfast in the morning because she rushes to school. By rushing to school all the time she does not have much time to get coffee but it shows that many people her age are most likely the same way which could create people to run to Dunkin Donuts instead. I have created this impression based on what I have personally seen how Starbucks seems to take longer and Dunkin Donuts is more of a “grab n go” type of coffee house. After describing to her how Starbucks has shut down more than 1000 stores nationally within the past month I started to implement some basic questions that were very informal to hear her real ideas and beliefs. Before she started to answer my questions I could tell that she was shocked to hear the news of more than a few Starbucks closings. This caught my eye and almost solidified my opinion on how loyal she was to the company. From the questions that I performed, which I thought were strategically thought of, I learned that Saimah is almost late every day. I also realized that her impression of the normal Starbucks customer was somewhat amusing yet true, that most businessmen and women go there and become loyal. From this answer I get an understanding that most minds think that Starbucks is for more sophisticated and wealthier people whereas Dunkin Donuts is for the hard working money savers who want the best value for the buck. Saimah also implemented the fact that she does not believe that people that go to Dunkin Donuts are cheap; she just believes that they have a different preference in what they are satisfied with. This provided me with more insight and curiosity as to see if this is what the majority of citizens think. I asked her what she valued most when it came to purchasing her coffee and she firmly responded with taste and strength as the most weighted. She is obviously not price sensitive because I personally am price sensitive and would go to Dunkin Donuts to get a coffee because it is cheaper. In this interview process I deliberately jumped from talking about the coffee to talking about the food that
  4. 4. is served at Starbucks and other competing chains. I did this because I wanted to see if her views were true and not twisted. The way I could tell if they are true is when I went back to the coffee she still had the same views. About the food I uncovered a huge issue that Starbucks may have and maybe a possible reason as to why Starbucks is dropping some of their franchises. For example, Saimah never orders food with her coffee, although from personal experience from her friends she believes that the food at Starbucks may be healthier but it is just snack rather than Dunkin Donuts who provides meal type food. I asked her if she had to eat in the morning would you have a Danish or Sausage and eggs. She confidently responded with sausage and eggs which is what Dunkin Donuts actually serves. I thought about this for a second and put two and two together and realized that a big issue that Starbucks could be faced with is their lack of food offering. This is a possible hypothesis that passes warrant for further investigation. For example, from personal experience I know that if I am hungry in the morning I would want Dunkin Donuts, but I was craving Starbucks coffee I would not get food from Dunkin Donuts and then go to Starbucks for my coffee. In fact Dunkin Donuts makes sure to provide meals where you can get both coffee and food in a package deal. This may take away a huge share of Starbucks consumers. The main recurring theme that poses a huge insight and definitely a further investigation that I heard come out of Saimah’s mouth was how “bland” the varieties and coffees were from Dunkin Donuts. She believed that people who want plain regular coffee and who are not anal about their coffee go to Dunkin Donuts, but people who want their coffee exactly the way they want it go to Starbucks. She said that Dunkin Donuts has less choice of coffee; it’s fatty, diluted and not as strong. She also became a bit frustrated and said that people could make the same products that Dunkin Donuts could make at home, again reiterating the blandness of the Dunkin Donuts drinks. I responded by saying “so you think that Starbucks has more kicked up and zesty drinks that are more appealing to the customers preferences? She replied firmly with yes. She felt that if you are going to buy something that it should
  5. 5. be soothing and something that you cannot make at home, otherwise just make it at home. Saimah proves a good point although that is her opinion and cannot be looked at as a legitimate correct answer. There will have to be some further investigation as to what people actually like. Do they actually like drinks with pizzazz and something that they will enjoy? Or, do they want a coffee that will keep them awake and going throughout the day. From this interview I have opened up many other doors and pathways to look at and understand the behaviors of people and what they like. Do people like change and something new in their life every day? Or do they dislike change and go through the same process everyday and have the same coffee every day? This depth interview has opened the gate to this inference and I would like to thank Saimah Musvee for participating in this study. She has been a huge help and now I will be on my way to conducting further studies and experiments to get to the end of this problem which will ultimately provide better reasoning as to why Starbucks has closed more than 1000 stores nationwide within the past month.