Starbucks Soon To Equal Coffee?

Over at Branding Post, we saw this quote about a grim dystopian future in which the word coffee no longer exists: when you pendulously breasted IHOP waitress emerges in a puff of brown cigarette smoke from the kitchens to demand your order, you won’t ask for a cup of coffee. You’ll ask for a Starbucks.

    (Starbuck’s) planned to raise hot coffee prices in the fall and wanted to use the iced summer drinks to help consumers become accustomed to the $2.60 price. Starbuck’s is always thinking at least two moves ahead, which is why some analysts have suggested that someday ‘Starbuck’s’ will be a synonym for coffee the way Jello is a synonym for gelatin and Kleenex is a synonym for facial tissue

What sort of idiot analysts are these? Why would that be a good thing for Starbucks? Jello and Kleenex are constantly trying to push the Sisyphean boulder of their own branding success back up the slope before it slides into common usage and they lose their trademark. In fact, Starbucks sues companies that even trivially violate their trademarks (see DoubleShot Coffee)… you can’t imagine their ominous corporate strategy is to make their trademark the common use term for a cup of joe the world over.

The Branding Post entry ends with this musing: “Before you scoff, think how big a bet you would have made, back in the day, that people would eagerly hand over a five-dollar bill for a cup of coffee, put a tip in jar on the counter and not have change left over to feed the parking meter.” What day was that? The day before people were easily influenced idiot buffoons? Sorry, we weren’t alive. Was anyone?

Jello=gelatin, Kleenex=facial tissue, Starbuck’s=coffee? Maybe not yet, but…

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  1. airship says:

    I’m sorry, young’un, but I’m not THAT ancient, and I remember when a really good cuppa Joe only cost a quarter. Twenty-five cents. And parking cost a nickel, if it cost anything at all.
    I also remember when anyone would give you a glass of water for free – we didn’t have to buy it in bottles for a dollar or more.
    Of course, I also remember when TV was black & white, there were only 3 channels, and it didn’t even come on until 4 in the afternoon.
    God, I’m old.

  2. Paul D says:

    ‘Starbuck’s’ will be a synonym for coffee the way Jello is a synonym for gelatin and Kleenex is a synonym for facial tissue

    Any marketing person worth a damn will tell you this is NOT an enviable position for any company. Once your product name becomes synonymous with its purpose, as a company you will have a harder time renewing any trademarks or ownership of the brand name.

    Any joker out there can use the word Xerox or Kleenex or Jell-O in any kind of publication without paying you a dime.

    And you can’t sue.

    I’m no fan of Starbucks. For one thing, I think their claims of ownership to the term “doubleshot” are absurd. But I can assure you, Starbucks does NOT want its company name to replace the word “coffee”. They may want to become synonymous with coffee in an abstract sense, but that’s about it.

  3. LLH says:

    my latte costs 3.85, i do not leave the pity tip (the nerve! the employees are shareholders!!) and i go to the shops where i can park or free. either that or i go to coffee bean and tea leaf.

  4. Jay says:

    Here’s the thing that always drives me nuts about this: coffee, by itself, doesn’t cost five dollars at Starbucks. The *espresso drinks* are expensive, but a “cup of coffee” at Starbucks isn’t significantly overpriced. In fact, at least in Manhattan, Starbucks is just about the same price as Dunkin’ Donuts (it’s a difference of maybe 10-15 cents for similarly-sized cups), and is in some cases *cheaper* on a per-ounce basis than buying coffee from the cart on the corner. Not that we should all switch to Starbucks, and not to pretend like their coffee “beverages” aren’t hideously expensive, but let’s not pretend like buying a cup of coffee at Starbucks instead of a corner cart is wasting money.

  5. mariser says:

    I agree with Jay. while not a big fan of SBs, there are some areas where they are the only place to get a cup. I can get a medium ‘coffee of the day’ for between $.95 and $1.25, which is reasonable.
    I can’t imagine getting the SB “beverages” except if I’m craving a dessert (which is what they are).

  6. Bubba Barney says:

    There’s actually a technical term for when a company’s name is so synonymous with a product. It’s driving me crazy trying to think of it. I saw it as a question on ‘Jeopardy’. Anyone know it?

  7. Bubba Barney says:

    ‘I came across your post on consumerist.com:

    There’s actually a technical term for when a company’s name is so synonymous with a product. It’s driving me crazy trying to think of it. I saw it as a question on ‘Jeopardy’. Anyone know it?

    I couldn’t post the answer as I’m not a member, but I think the term you’re looking for is “proprietary eponym.” Just FYI so you aren’t racking your brain…

    Cullen