Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
Pure business is when a company looks at the reality of what’s happening to its business, rather than the rhetoric that circles around it.
Recently, outgoing Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz announced that the company would hire 10,000 refugees in the 75 countries in which it operates. That’s 10,000 in total. Over a five-year period.
But with refugees being such a politically-tainted word, the critics immediately came out in force.
Why didn’t Starbucks hire veterans? (It does.) Why not hire Americans? (It does.)
Things got even more tricky when a YouGov Brand Index study insisted that Starbucks’s brand image plummeted after its refugee announcement.
This, it seems, got Starbucks a little hot under the coffee-stained collar.
The company on Friday released a letter from market research firm Kantar Millward Brown. Starbucks has worked with KMB for a long time. This was almost a character reference.
The missive was entirely dismissive of suggestions that anything had happened to the Starbucks brand image at all.
Starbucks’s chief strategy officer Matt Ryan explained: “Over the past week, there has been misinformation widely disseminated in the market about our brand, and stakeholders need the facts.”
When a west coast company accuses someone of “misinformation,” it means “a load of bloody lies, that’s what.”
As for Kantar Millward Brown, it offered its own information, which, it said, contained no misses: “Kantar Millward Brown has conducted on-going monthly measurement of Starbucks Brand Perceptions and Consumer Sentiment toward the Brand and saw no such impact in February 2017. In fact, in February 2017 — after the announcement — we did not observe any substantive impact on Customer Consideration, Future Visitation Intent or Brand Perceptions or any other key performance metrics for the Starbucks brand.”
What can we learn from this?
Perhaps that if you’ve worked with your market research firm for a long time and had success, you should stick with it. Especially if that market research firm is prepared to — unlike some market research firms — have its results displayed in the public eye.
Indeed, what might happen if the Starbucks brand image does plummet? Will KMB make a formal announcement?
Another learning might be that market research can come to many conclusions, depending on how it’s conducted, how it’s interpreted and who’s paying for it.
Finally, though, if there’s a problem you’ll begin to see it in the numbers.
If Starbucks is wise enough to know that it’s having problems in its stores because of too many mobile orders coming it at once, it should fairly soon get a sense that it’s being boycotted by those who oppose its avowedly humanist/liberal persona.
Of course, this isn’t the first time that the company has been called out for its so-called progressive views.
There was an unholy brouhaha after it released rather plain, religion-free Christmas cups a couple of years ago.
Can the hiring of refugees be even more dangerous to a brand than the alleged war on Christmas?
Or might the business be subject to far greater, more fundamental influences? Such as whether millennials will consistently pay $ 10 for a cup of coffee.