Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Starbucks must be crazy

I am beginning to experience the benefits of staying put at one place and having an academic environment around me 24/7!  One of the things I I really like about an academic environment is the discussions we have in our aisles, or over coffee. These often revolve around serious research topics, but also meander into funny observations on everyday life. I guess that is what happens when you throw a bunch of serious researchers who are all trying to solve a few problems!.  Apart from the shamless self-promotion of my lifetsyle, there is somethign about Starbucks that came up in one such discussion.

I have always wondered why Starbucks insisted calling their coffee sizes - large, grande and venti - I never figured out the reason. I have not read about it much outside as well.  However, one argument is that they want to insist on their differentiation from low-end coffee chains such as Dunkin' . I guess it makes sense to create a unique vocabulary that consumers can relate to your brand and expect them to show loyalty to those affiliations.  However, the funny thing is - large, grande and venti are actually the most stupid names you can come up with for coffee sizes.

Here's my rationale - Tall is a measure of height, Grande is a measure of size, Venti, although unclear might be Italian for twenty (trusting my Italian colleague) fluid ounces.  So, what starbucks has is some crazy nomenclature of height, size and volume to measure their coffee and somehow convince people to pay a premium of over 300% on comparative offerings.  Call it ingenuity!