Starbucks “open door” policy …

Street people win the latte lotto.
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Yep, the Starbucks cafe manager made a big mistake calling the cops on the 2 non-customers who were hanging out … an especially big mistake since the guys were African American.

Immediately, Starbucks launched an internal program to re-sensitize its employees.  That’s good.

But, in a stunning over-reaction, the company announced a new policy:

No purchase necessary to hang out or use the restrooms.

 

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Post-announcement, the intuitively obvious unintended consequences became quickly evident …

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While not a complete salvation for the homeless, the policy helps.

First, with Starbucks ubiquity —  there’s now a public potty on practically every street corner.

Too cold or too hot outside?

No problem, just head for  a climate-controlled Starbucks.

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As a recovering marketer, my question: what’s going to happen to the “ambiance” that Starbucks has hyped since birth … and that customers are funding via the inflated latte prices.

Will customers feel as comfortable hanging out at their Starbucks?

Will Starbucks be adding more restrooms to handle the increased demand?

Or, will they just tell customers to shut-up and stand in line?

What happens when customers hit the can and find it a bit untidy or lacking supplies?

How will the Baristas respond with their enhanced janitorial duties?

How will Starbucks respond when the Amalgamated Food Workers start to organize the Baristas?

My bet: This will go down in marketing history next to Red Lobster’s “all the lobster you can eat” promotion that almost drove the company into bankruptcy.

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Update

Yesterday, Starbucks started modifying it open doors policy.

First legit evictions: sleeping and drug use.

So, if you’re a student cramming for an exam, don’t doze off for a 10-minute cat nap.

The revised policy doesn’t make clear whether toking on a joint constitutes drug use.

I think that there may be a few more revisions coming …

===========Follow on Twitter @KenHoma

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