Darlene Quinn, Long Beach-based Author and Journalist as well as a former senior executive with the Bullocks Wilshire department store chain recently wrote an article on Bulldog Reporter about the decline of brand loyalty. Quinn pointed out that what she's seeing in the marketplace aren't encouraging for some of America's oldest brands.
"Some of our most recognized and best-loved brands are falling victim to an economy in which price is the paramount concern for consumers," said Quinn, author of "Webs of Fate," a novel about the retail fashion industry from Greenleaf Book Group. "We've ended the era of the brand-loyal consumer, and entered the age of low prices."
While I agree with Quinn about the death of brand loyalty, I am one of those old-fashioned consumers who still have fierce brand loyalty. Especially when it's deserved.
My Most Obsessive Brand Loyalty Is To Starbucks
My most obsessive brand loyalty is to Starbucks. I'm one of their long time customers who never lingers in the store preventing others from finding a seat. I also gift everyone I can think of with Starbucks cards for their birthdays or special events.
I'm also actually an express Starbucks customer who orders a really simple drink in the drive-through. My drink? A Trenta unsweetened black iced tea, with extra ice. Easy, right? Well not exactly.
I often order two or three Trenta iced teas at a time. I then stash the extras in my refrigerator for later consumption and enjoyment. Not complicated right? Well, yes it has become complicated lately.
It seems that my neighborhood Starbucks at Midway and Park in Carrollton often runs out of iced tea. Especially after about 5:00 pm. Even though they're open until 9:00 pm it's hit or miss whether you can get black unsweeted ice tea.
Should I Cut Up My Gold Starbucks Card?
My loyalty and love for Starbucks shown by my proud ownership of a Gold Starbucks card is tarnished every time I drive through to order my tea and receive the sad news that I can't order it. Tonight was a classic example.
After a very long day locked up working on a high stress special HairBoutique.com project launching this weekend, I had been unable to get away from the office and make it to Starbucks. I had to make due with two cups of brewed hot black tea. It wasn't the same as my Starbucks iced tea, but it was all I could get at the time.
No Tea At The Midway Starbucks
My male partner knew that I had been working very hard all day and was probably missing my daily Starbucks. He very sweetly offered to drive to the Midway Starbucks and pick me up my standard order of three Trenta unsweetened black iced teas with extra ice and an extra cup of ice. That way I would have one fresh tea delicious for tonight and two to kick off my weekend.
After pulling into the Midway Starbucks drive through at 5:45 pm he was told that the Starbucks was completely "out of tea" and they could only make one Trenta. They told him they sold "a lot of tea" that day and didn't have anymore. Really? No more tea?
He was upset. Were they really out of tea? At 5:45 pm? The Starbucks is open until 9:00 pm. What does that mean for anyone else stopping by for a tea?
Texans Drink A Lot Of Ice Tea
This is Texas. We drink iced tea by the billions of gallons. Not only is it refreshing and delicious, black tea is good for you. Especially unsweetened. It's better in some regards than coffee and it's definitely better than margaritas - another Texas tradition.
My male partner was very upset that he couldn't get me more than one tea. He had a dejected look when he arrived with just one black iced tea and one cup of ice. I actually felt worse for him than for me.
Afterall, he had braved rush hour traffic to get in line to fetch the tea. He felt bad because he knew I would be disappointed. I felt bad for him for making a special trip without getting the goods he wanted.
Sadly the lack of tea at the Midway Starbucks later in the day is not a rare exception. It has happened to me and to him repeatedly in the recent past.
Which makes me question my loyalty to my very favorite brand in the whole world. The people at the Starbucks have to know that there are people like me out there who regularly stop by for ice tea after 5:00 pm. Don't they pay attention to drink order trends? Maybe they don't.
In A World Of Shrinking Brand Loyalty Even Iced Tea Matters
Luckily I also frequent two other Starbucks. There's a great one on Renner as well as the one at 75 and Campbell. I am thrilled to report that neither location ever runs out of Trenta iced black tea. If it weren't for those two alternative Starbucks locations I might seriously consider cutting up my Gold Starbucks card and switching to some other type of tea.In a world where customer loyalty is becoming a rare commodity you would think that companies would pay special attention to customers who want to spend their money with them. Even if it's less than $10 for three Trenta iced teas.
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