Saturday, November 21, 2009

Implied Quality at Starbucks

I've seen this poster dozens of times at Starbucks:I had read it, never really considered its message, and just assumed that it meant that Starbucks sold some of the best coffee beans in the world. The implications is either that Starbucks sells the top 3% of coffee beans in the world or that Starbucks selects from the top 3% of coffee beans in the world.

This morning I thought about it a bit more. It says that Starbucks coffee is made from 3% of the best coffee beans in the world. Not THE 3% best coffee beans but 3% OF THE best coffee beans. There's a huge difference. If you took the worlds coffee and split it into 50% bad beans and 50% good beans, then Starbucks would only have to pick 3% of that latter group to live up to this message. Their coffee could be incredibly mediocre, and yet this poster would still be true.

I actually think that Starbucks does pick better than mediocre coffee. And I'm sure no one else actually considers posters like this the way people like me do. But I do feel like they're being a little sneaky in this, and that it's things like this that give advertisers a bad name. It shouldn't be hard for Starbucks to get across a quality message, they shouldn't have to rely on little tricks like this.

Or, maybe Starbucks did mean what I had originally thought, and now I'm overthinking all this.

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