I’ve been hearing a lot lately about ‘the experience’. Why do you shop at Nordstrom? Because it’s a shopping ‘experience’. Why do you buy your tires at Les Schwab? Because they run out to greet you…it’s an ‘experience’. Why buy your coffee at Starbucks? Because it’s not just a latte, it’s an ‘experience’.
The current trend is to not just sell houses, it’s to provide an ‘experience’. What frustrates me is that what make an amazing experience for one person is not going to be a similarly awesome experience for the next person. Everyone filters events differently. Different things trigger different emotions.
I was in a continuing education class today, and the instructor doesn’t like Starbucks coffee. He said it “tastes awful”. After being reminded that he was in fact teaching in the state of Washington, whence Starbucks hails, he acknowledged his faux pas by nodding slowly and saying nothing more. Then about an hour later he insisted it was only coffee, and not worth the money charged or the hoopla surrounding it, because it “tastes awful”. A palpable chill settled upon the room.
Now, I have my own Starbucks experience. I used to work in retail, and every so often in retail, there is a merchandising extravaganza known as a ‘floorset’. New items come onto the sales floor and the corporate office dictates how these items are to be displayed. There’s a certain amount of heavy lifting and hammering and such that goes on during these floorsets. When I was pregnant, due to my delicate condition, I was often sent to Starbucks to get the morning coffee and pastry orders while everyone else stayed behind to do the floorset.
Sounds like a good deal, right (a nice stroll down the mall, a chat with the baristas, no hard labor…)? But the problem was that the mere smell of coffee, for the entire duration of my pregnancy, made me feel nauseated. So, as I approached the Starbucks store, I would begin to breathe through my mouth. I was usually able to utter the order, explain that I would wait outside, and get outside, before I had to vomit. EVERY SINGLE TIME…I vomited. In front of Starbucks. Like an idiot. Does Starbucks give me warm fuzzies? Um, no.
Compare my Starbucks experience to the Espresso World Coffee shop near the office. I went through the drive-through once to order a granita-like thing (I don’t like coffee, so it’s funny that I even care about which coffee place is better) and the guy at the window asked me what I was doing Wednesday night. I told him I wasn’t sure and he told me I should drop by the shop because this really cool band was playing (he handed me the flyer!) and he was sure I’d love it. For just a moment, I wasn’t a 30-something married mother of two. I was cool enough, and perceived as young enough, to be invited to see a live band perform. How awesome is that?
In the coffee shop wars, Espresso World is going to win for me every time. But it won’t win for everyone. I’m going to come back to this topic periodically because truly, what means the world to one person, won’t mean anything to the next. And you, lucky readers, get to see my brain try to wrestle with this one.