Moldy Bagels at LAX Starbucks

I stopped into the Starbucks in the LAX American terminal (the first one passed walking toward the end of the terminal). I thought a bagel would be a good snack until I saw noticeable green mold spots. I mentioned it to the “partner” and she said “have you had an asiago bagel before? That is normal.”

Not normal for me – no thanks.

The Subliminal Starbucks Message

Starbucks EssenceEarlier in my career I remember Janet Mitchell (our CMO at SmartPrice.com) sharing with us a presentation about what Starbucks really sells – essence. Essence is the time we take to slow down. Essence is enjoying the cup of coffee. Essence is life. The point was taken and the concept was brilliant. Not only has it stuck with me, but I am constantly looking beyond what I do/buy/say and explore behind it.

One Friday I was sitting in my local Starbucks¬†enjoying some essence and having discussions about business and life. Usually meetings like these last an hour or so and then it is off to (or back to) the office for work. This time, however, I headed home. When I got there, my middle daughter came to give me a hug, then turned to go back to her Barbie, but paused – “Daddy, you smell like coffee”, she said. Sure enough, I grabbed the sleeve of my shirt, took a whiff and it was as though I, myself, had just worked a shift as a barista. It wasn’t a bad smell, but it was enduring and aromatic.

That got me to thinking. Starbucks sells essence. They are also pushing the message to come in to Starbucks, relax, and stay awhile. Perhaps they know that they are infusing the olfaction siren into soon-to-be-walking billboards. People going back to offices or other public places emanating the coffee beacon. Preying on the unsuspecting. That may be a little far-fetched, but movie companies know a thing or two about the effect of smell and popcorn sales.