When I left Moneybox's New York headquarters to conduct research at the closest Starbucks (a block away), I passed a half-dozen other coffee vendors. There's the guy with the cart who sells the little Greek diner cups for 50 cents; the deli with the scalding 75-cent generic joe and the thin paper cup; the convenience store with $1.00 faux gourmet stuff; and Cosi, where a latte costs $3.59. Only after running this gantlet could I enter Starbucks, where a java chip Frappuccino runs $4.75.
Starbucks must be banking on the theory that the people who buy its coffee don't just need coffee, they need Starbucks coffee, which packs a higher caffeine punch than many competitors...
A recent survey of scientific literature by psychiatrists Roland Griffiths of Johns Hopkins and Laura Juliano of American University found that people who have a one-cup-a-day habit can become addicted. It's not so much the buzz—pleasant as it is—that keeps people coming back for more: It's the symptoms of withdrawal. In other words, Starbucks may not have to fret about the impact of raising prices because a goodly portion of its customer base may begin to feel sick without its products. Talk about a great business plan!
I'm just glad that there isn't a Starbucks on my way to work. I'd go broke too fast! Thank goodness for the Dunkin' Donuts and their iced coffees (which oddly enough I think I enjoy more than the Frappuccinos. Now if I could only convince them to accept my debit card! :)