Credit Suisse – Is reporting that the Starbucks Pledge to hire 10,000 Muslim refugees is hurting the Starbucks brand and their sales.
There is no doubt there are people who are saying that this at its root is because Americans are racist.
I tend to think not.
We have thousands of Americans still out of work. I think, as I always have, that Americans should be the priority when it comes to hiring in this country.
Starbucks recently posted a letter saying that they loved and would hire Veterans too, in a half hearted attempt to reassure the public that they are a equal opportunity employer.
Apparently, the public isn’t buying it.
As I scanned the Credit Suisse report a couple of other things came to mind.
Would a muslim refugee serve me, my cafe mocha and my double bacon egg & cheese breakfast sandwich?
What happens when you get a Veteran and a Muslim Refugee in the same shift, and they start arguing?
In a way I’m dealing with the latter problem where I work. We have a guy who identifies as Persian and a guy who is Pakistani (I think) sitting near me. The Persian guy is quite adamant about doing business ONLY with other Persians, and daily, finds something bad to say about America or Americans.
The Pakistani guy literally will not shut up about how awful it is that Trump was elected and that Hillary or Obama should be the president.
For him this is a daily crisis and he’s said that the military should take Trump out and put Hillary in. When another coworker pointed out that our Pakistani coworker is talking about a coup d’état and that’s not the way we do things in America, The Pakistani replies that perhaps America should do things that way.
Against the trials of dealing with pissed off customers, the constant bitching about Trump makes going to work a significantly less pleasant experience. I wouldn’t call it a “Hostile” work environment but I would say it’s moving that direction.
Add to that the Canadian customers taking pot shots on the phone, (Because they know we have to take it) and some days it’s really tough to maintain equilibrium.
Fortunately I manage to ignore it most of the time but for those of my coworkers sitting closer to these two it’s far more difficult to ignore.
I can’t imagine going to a Starbucks to have a cup of coffee and just take a break, and having to listen to people behind the counter or at other tables having similar conversations, because that isn’t taking a break, it’s exhausting.
Starbucks took a hit when they banned firearms from their premises. Some stores went so far as to refuse service to police officers. Which is why if you want a police officer you go to any other coffee shop.
Starbucks also took another hit when they changed their rewards program, and when they discontinued their clever older style holiday cups, and again when their baristas started writing little political messages on your cup.
My point is that American companies, ALL American companies need to remember that their duty is to their customers, and shareholders. No company needs to, or should insert themselves into politics. They, like Hollywood need to shut up, sell their products, and take the money. That is all that is required of them.
I’ve been watching with amusement, the Black Rifle Coffee company’s website. They came out after Starbucks made their refugee announcement, saying they’d hire Vets. I don’t think they should’ve entered the political arena anymore than Starbucks should have, but I must admit it was a marketing coup on Black Rifle’s part.
Black Rifle is now in the enviable position of having a two or three week backorder on most of their products.
They were smart enough to capitalize on Starbucks missteps. Including having legal open carry at one of their flagship stores. Black Rifle is obviously more in tune with the sentiment of the “average” American than Starbucks.
Since Starbucks has entered the political fray, I’ve found that it is easier to avoid them and their products. I’ll grant you it’s not really a conscious choice it’s just that between the noise, expense, hipsters, and Starbucks politics, I’m more likely to head to any of the myriad other coffee shops that provide faster service, and are easier to get into and out of.
At 4:30 in the morning I’d rather head somewhere that I can exchange pleasantries with law enforcement, instead of wondering if I’m going to get mugged in an empty Starbucks parking lot while some hipster barista looks on wondering what to do.
I haven’t gotten to the point that I’m willing to give up my Starbucks card on my phone but that day may well be around the corner.
It’s not an “Active” boycott on my part, and I suspect that it wouldn’t be active on the part of most other people I think it would just be the worst thing a company can face. A “Meh” whatever, “Silent” boycott.
Silent Boycotts are much harder to deal with. If suddenly people simply stop seeking your products with no explanation, a company can beat themselves to death trying to find a cause.
Companies start thrashing around looking for the problem; Is it Quality, Merchandising, Advertisement, Price, Logos, Saturation of the market place, Brand differentiation, Relevance?
Companies spend millions on each of these areas and if suddenly, nothing is working and they can’t gain or maintain market share then the company will fade into irrelevance.
Remember Compaq? WordStar? WordPerfect? Novell? Palm? Each of these companies faded for various reasons. But bottom line is that folks just stopped buying their products.
It’s like going on the third date and then the other person just stops responding to messages. You have no idea what you did wrong and you never will. You’ll also never have the opportunity to fix the problem because you have no idea where to start.
Apple faced this problem in the 90’s just before Steve Jobs returned to the helm and reenergized the company. I vaguely recall Apple stock trading for some ridiculously low price and considering maxing out my credit card to buy as much as I could. I wish now that I’d done it, but it was unclear if Jobs was going to be able to turn the company around and I deemed the risk was too great. Had I maxed out that card on Apple stock… I’d be lying naked on a beach somewhere.
Starbucks, Apple, Microsoft, Nike, and other major corporations, should really take note, lest they find themselves on the receiving end of a similar “Silent” boycott.
Meanwhile companies like Black Rifle Coffee, will be waiting in the wings to fill the void.