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Rock Street, San Francisco

Starbucks is a place where one can observe
different kinds of human moods at the same time. It’s a place where people come
to grab drinks, chitchat with friends, read books and work. Today is January
20th, Saturday, 5 pm, I entered the Starbucks, which has all glass doors and
windows, at Aborn complex, San Jose. To gather the maximum interaction
observations, I chose the weekend evening time from 5pm-9pm on Saturday. The
moment I entered the cafe, the strong fragrance of coffee attracted me so much
that I couldn’t resist to order one cappuccino
for myself. I sat down on the long rectangular seat
(see Photo 1) which was in the middle of the cafe from where I could see the
entrance and experience the high traffic area which made easier for me to hear
the public interactions as well as have access
to electric socket to charge
my laptop for making notes. The walls were painted
coffee colored and had paintings on each wall showing the history of Starbucks. Just after the entrance, on
right side shelf, they had different types
of coffee packets which were highlighted from the high and bright ceiling lights and a
counter in middle had all confectionary such as muffins, croissants, sandwiches, salad bowls, chips
and packed juices (see photo 2). Background Music was continuously playing at low volume, personally I did
not like their songs collection. There were
three girls working in the café wearing the same jet black T-shirt with the Starbucks logo and a green apron over it.

One girl was at cashier counter, second
was trained in making all types of coffees and the third one was cleaning,
refilling the supplies and in between was helping the other girl in making
coffees.

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Phenomena observed

As I was expecting, it was a busy evening for Starbucks. I
observed an interesting pattern in 4 hours, most of
the customers who ordered coffee were in a hurry to collect
and leave while those staying in the
Starbucks for long hours were less likely to buy any drink or food. Majority of
customers age looked like middle aged between 25yrs – 40yrs with mostly teenagers
or younger kids and students. Outside was
quite chilling temperature and majority of people were wearing casual attire
with mostly black overcoats, jackets, scarves along with either long shoes or sports
shoes especially Nike brand. Some people entered just to use the restrooms. There
were two sofa seats where two girls were sitting and discussing about their
school activity in very loud pitch (see photo 3). Rest all seats were full with
people who were working on their laptops. I observed that people who want to
sit for long hours, preferred to grab a corner secluded seat rather than to share table with others. Three persons
bought Chipotle bowl to eat here as Chipotle store was adjacent
to Starbucks. There was a long queue of people for collecting
their orders and I saw few of their activities while waiting, like one person
was giving shoulder massage to his girlfriend, two boys were watching a video
on a single phone by sharing their headphones and rest of people were just standing
and waiting for their drinks. At 8:35 pm, I observed a different scenario, a group of two people came to sit beside my
seat and introduced themselves to each other. Then one person was explaining
other about the working of apple laptop and he told him that he bought his laptop
in $2900 but he giving it now in $1500. Also, he gave them a charging cable of
$30 for free with this purchase. He mentioned that craigslist is best which
proves that they were strangers and met through classified advertisement website
to finalize the laptop deal.  

Common
Themes

 

Majority of people who were sitting there for long hours, using
apple laptops and apple phones. Each of them were listening something through
earphones to avoid the outside disturbance. Most of the people had wireless
headphones. These people were more interested in taking free water from the
café rather than ordering any drinks. I observed a very common theme in these
four hours that people who were entering in group were smiling and talking to
each other while the one’s entering alone, didn’t smile for a single time.

There was no smile and eye contact on the customer’s face while the employee
girls were quite happy and talking to each other with smile. Cashier was very
polite with everyone and making eye contact. I could hear some common orders of
people like hot coffee, mocha, butterscotch with almond milk and drinks with
green tea and raspberry flavors. Most population preferred to pay from credit
card than cash. Another point I noticed was mostly people entering the café
were rotating a key chain in their first finger showing that they came from
their own vehicle.

Personal
reactions to common themes and phenomena observed

According to my observation, around
60-70% people were young people or students who like to visit Starbucks for
their personal work. People prefer hot chocolate coffee than Frappuccino with
large size cup. There is only small fraction of people who prefers to put extra
sugar in their drinks. Besides going for coffee or meals, people want to spend
their leisure time in Starbucks.  Emotionally
people feel more connected with this place because it does not force people to
buy from them to sit there for long hours. Also, people use this place to meet
unknowns to trade their used products because of convenience, safety and
accessibility. In addition, I observed that people are happier and less
stressful in the groups rather than being alone. Financially and efficiently, I
noticed some drawbacks here that the average customer time during rush hours
was quite large and Starbucks may lose potential customers which can decrease
their business. According to me, to overcome this problem, Starbucks can
increase and cross-train their staff to make both hot and cold beverages. They
can also start a drive-through which would be very convenient for the
customers. One more drawback I observed that there was no sign language for the
people who have hearing disability. Starbucks really need a strategic planning
to compete with the established vendors like “In & Out”, “McDonalds” etc. Starbucks has always maintained its brand reputation by focusing
more on customer niche that is willing to pay more for higher customer services
and that’s why even after few drawbacks, people have great faith in them.

 

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