Industry News | April 14, 2011

In Coffee, Who Has Most Loyalty? Not Starbucks

While there are many millions of coffee drinkers who rely completely on Starbucks to satisfy their coffee urges, more than half of Starbucks’ customers regularly visit Dunkin’ Donuts or McDonald’s for a hot beverage or breakfast over the course of a month.

This is among the findings of QSRdna, a massive benchmark survey of the annual shopping habits of more than 15,000 quick-serve restaurant customers, conducted by CustomersDNA, a marketing and research consulting firm.

The QSRdna report found that while 41 percent of Starbucks customers can be considered “loyals” who did not visit any other coffee/breakfast chain during the average month, 53 percent, identified as “roamers,” also stopped by either Dunkin’ Donuts or McDonald’s during an average month.

Shopping patterns for Dunkin’ Donuts’ customers were similar (42 percent loyals and 53 percent roamers). McDonald’s had the most loyal customers, with 62 percent saying they did not visit either Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts during the average month.

“The significance of these patterns became clear when we found that the roamers purchased a hot beverage and/or breakfast nearly twice as often as loyals,” says Dave Jenkins, CustomersDNA cofounder. “During the average month, loyal customers of each of the three chains visited their favorite store 6.7 times, while the roamers averaged 13 visits per month. Converting these sometime-customers to loyals is key to winning the coffee/breakfast battle.”

The study examined consumer visit patterns, frequency, and customer loyalty and menu preferences across five purchase occasions (breakfast, lunch/dinner, hot beverage only, cold beverage only, and frozen treat only) over the course of a 12-month period. The report provides chain operators with a diagnostic tool for identifying, evaluating, and attracting high-value customers as well as detailing their spending levels, the items they purchase, and which other chains they patronize.


It depends on what I'm doing. If I just want a quick cup of coffee, it's McDonalds every time. It's cheap and fast. I don't have time to stand in a ten minute line at Starbucks, then wait another 5-10 minutes to get it.However, if I am meeting someone for a more relaxing coffee break, in a nice atmosphere, then it's Starbucks. I don't really want to sit next to the homeless guy who has been camping at McDonalds for 3 hours after he spent the night sleeping at the bus stop.

Wait 10 minutes in line and then 5 - 10 minutes for your drink? I find that hard to believethat it would take anywhere from 15 - 20 minutes to get a cup of coffee at a Starbucks. If that is the case then you are going to a very poorly run store.

Starbucks is simply not interested in customers that just want a cup of joe. They make most of their money from customers that want fancy concocted drinks that run between $3-4. If they were interested in the customer that wanted just a cup of coffee they would build a process in their stores that the coffee drinkers could just grab a cup and go. But they make the plain coffee drinker wait on line behind other customers that make the dessert case their life-long destination or are befuddled to order the next exotic drink that may have a dash of coffee in it.I used to be a regular at Starbucks at one of their locations which was very convenient during my path to work. But one day, the seemingly endless wait on line just got to me as I was behind one person who had to have her daily fix of double mint mocha decaf skim latt, or the next gal that just had to consolidate 4 gift cards. Now I go out of my way to use the McDonalds drive-thru and I still save time. BTW, McDonalds coffee is pretty good and a lot more reasonable in cost.Goodbye Starbucks!

I must say, I don't mind either McDonalds or Starbucks. Both are consistent, neither are fantastic, but at least you know what you'll get when you walk in. McCafes have come a long way since their early days of just pure drip coffee. And Starbucks do more than just coffee these days. So both have my loyalty. My Coffee Store

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