Starbucks Redefines ‘What Is a Customer?’
What is a customer? Now, anyone on Starbucks property is a customer. So says a letter the marketer sent to employees on Saturday, promptly causing the policy change that allows non-paying customers to use the restrooms. This raises the question of whether other brands will follow suit.
Yesterday, USA Today reported the Starbucks letter said “any person who enters our spaces, including patios, cafes and restrooms, regardless of whether they make a purchase, is considered a customer.”
For most marketers, customers purchase products. That was the definition of a customer for Starbucks until Saturday. Before then, only product purchasers could use the restrooms, which became an issue in April when two men waiting at a Starbucks in Philadelphia for a meeting were arrested after one requested to use the restroom. As a result of the incident, all Starbucks stores will close during the afternoon of May 29 for employees to receive training in implicit bias. The men arrested and later released with no charges were black.
Marketers critical of changing the bathroom policy have commented to Target Marketing that it could create disorder for retailers.
USA Today reported yesterday:
And in a policy statement shared with USA TODAY, the company indicated that "When using a Starbucks space, we respectfully request that customers behave in a manner that maintains a warm and welcoming environment by:
- Using spaces as intended
- Being considerate of others
- Communicating with respect
- Acting responsibly."
What do you think, marketers?
Please respond in the comments section below.
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