Loft Life: Coffee, Starbucks and did I just fall for a marketing trick?

I drink Starbucks coffee at home because I buy the Kirkland version of their breakfast brew. I drink Starbucks coffee at their stores mostly because I have a loyalty card with dollars on it that, for some reason, I advance them money for. What a great marketing game!   

When we had the whole Year 2000 scare that life as we know it would end when the computers and clocks of the world came to a halt, my son said: “You need to stock up on guns and coffee. Coffee, because many people can’t live normally without it, and guns to protect your coffee.”

The marketing gimmick at Starbucks is a curious human behavior psychology though. There is other coffee. There is other coffee I like, and even prefer to Starbucks–Panera Bread’s coffee, for instance. 

Panera Bread doesn’t make me jump through hoops to get a free refill. They offer me as many free refills as I can drink on a visit. I don’t need to advance them money, or get stars, or any of that. And their coffee isn’t bitter. But there aren’t many Panera Bread’s at airports, which gets me back to the fact that the Starbucks loyalty card is really convenient.

I do like Starbucks’ new Refreshers, especially the lime one. These are the ones with green coffee, which I think don’t really have any nutritional benefits, as I understand it, because the green beans are roasted. *sigh*

Recently I read that Starbucks is granting a star for any Starbucks product purchase, whether in their stores, or somewhere else–like Costco–where their products are available, and that all you have to do is follow directions to get the credit.

I bought two pounds of coffee at Costco, and then discovered that I was five days too early for the launch of that program. No stars. Then I purchased a case of refreshers at the Costco near my daughter’s home in California, kept the receipt and tried to put in the receipt code on my Starbucks account. Nope. I need the code from some special STAR on the package–which, of course, I didn’t realize then, so it is back in Los Angeles, probably in some trash heap by now.

I tried to purchase another case of Starbuck’s Refreshers here in Connecticut, ‘cause I like ‘em, but guess what. Connecticut people didn’t buy enough for Costco to carry these here. So,  still no stars. That’s three starless Costco purchases so far. And, the other downside of the Starbucks retail store refreshers is that they don’t come in the two flavors offered at the Starbuck’s stores.

So really, why am I so hep to get more stars, to get from the Green to Gold Starbucks level? Ummm. they give you a free cup of coffee if you are gold. At least I think they do. Not totally sure. 

And, oh, and I had 24 stars toward the 30 I needed to get to gold, and somehow they all disappeared recently and I had to start over. Something about an expiration date.

This seems like a lot of work and complication just to get a free cup of coffee that I don’t even prefer. But, still I keep that card on automatic reload. 

Do you think I should just wait until I see a Panera Bread at the airport and chuck the whole Starbucks prepaid card thing?

Oh the power of marketing.

 

Loft Life: Women are natural shoppers

Maybe learning life lessons from Hollywood isn’t a reliable standard, but, I have to say, I really have learned a lot from the movies.    

For instance, Judy Benjamin, the lead character in the 1980 Goldie Hawn film, Private Benjamin, had to decide on what her Army career duty choice would be, and it just seemed obvious to her that women are natural purchasing agents.

So when I told my sister-in-law, Lisa, that I do not like to shop, it started me thinking about whether this is an accurate statement.

Really, what I mean by not liking to shop, is that I am not one to browse, hang out at Walmart, or run around to bricks and mortar stores to find bargains–which today seem to be all made in China, so not really bargains in my opinion.

But, I do enjoy being the family purchasing agent. I think much more like a purchasing agent than just a consumer. I mostly shop online

Purchasing agents look at the big picture more than whether they save a dollar on one item. This becomes very interesting when the economy is bad, prices are skyrocketing, and quality is suffering. 

What does this look like in my real life?

I shop in bulk for many food items that I use regularly. I do this not only at Costco, but more and more at Amazon. I have used their subscribe & save grocery store, and not only do I have regular shipments of things like oats, coconut oil, raisins, coconut, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds, and nuts for my granola, cultures for my yogurt making, soup blends, veggie stock, almond milk, coconut water, and dried beans, free trade coffee, cocoa, chia seeds, hemp hearts, hawthorne tea, and more, but these things arrive at our apartment so that hubby gets to carry in the heavy boxes, rather than me straining to get things from the car to the door. 

I also get a 15% discount and because I am a Prime Member, free shipping! I don’t have to hunt these things down, and they are always in stock. Awesome. Saves on gasoline too.

Also, I no longer make the $180 milk trip to Costco. I now have everything in stock, so I only need to go to the store for fresh produce and the occasional item I know I need. I get in, and get out. Simple now.

Amazon is great also for some clothing and household stuff. I recently found a Tommy Hilfiger hooded, down coat ($400 retail) for $79.00, free shipping. I did look at many stores for this, and nothing even compared in style or value to what I got online at Amazon.

For 40 years I have been an Amway distributor, and I buy all my household products, beauty supplies, nutritional supplements, and various other things, from my own store, at wholesale prices, and am assured they are high quality and “green.” I really miss things like Scrub Buds, SA8, LOC and other essentials when I am traveling, because there is nothing like them on the shelves. And, really, this is how I learned to think like a purchasing agent rather than just a consumer.

Recently, since my hair stylist had surgery, I have switched to having my color and cut done at a beauty school. I was a little apprehensive at first, but both the color and cut were very well done, and the cost is one quarter of my usual salon. That means I can get my hair done, have manicures, a monthly massage, and even have hubby’s haircut for the same cost as just my hair cut and color. That is pretty irresistible. And, they have late hours so hub doesn’t get all frustrated rushing home from work for his monthly cut. 

I hardly ever go out to eat anymore unless I have a Groupon or Living Social discount. With restaurant dining becoming way more expensive (we don’t do fast food), we can still enjoy lovely meals at half price. We also use these companies for weekend getaways, and I have bought Egyptian cotton sheets, a Sherpa blanket, and other items with extreme discounts. 

 

 

So I am not just looking for cheaper stuff or services. These are the same quality products and services I used to pay much more for, with much more convenience and less stress.

 

For most shopping, it has to be something I really need, really have wanted for a long time, or something I am giving as a gift. I don’t look for ways to spend. I look for ways to get what I need at savings without too much effort. And, yes, I think Private Benjamin was correct. For most women, this attitude comes pretty naturally. Yes, some women do like to browse and shop recreationally. But, I don’t know any women who don’t make smart purchasing decisions. They seem to have it in their DNA to ferret out the good prices.

 

The whole coupon idea is big business, and probably because women see the value. I have never been big on clipping coupons for three reasons: usually it takes a lot of time and planning to be of value, most items are processed food, which we don’t eat much, and storing and remembering which coupons are where is a big deal and often involves going physically to many stores to find brands. But, I understand those who do this. I used to pay my kids 10% on weekly savings to do the clipping and match coupons to our menu. That was fun, and they enjoyed the income when they were too young to earn other ways.  

 

 

So, no, I don’t usually love shopping. But, yes, I do enjoy the art of purchasing. 

    Would love to hear your stories.