All restaurants necessitate a pleasant and welcoming servicescape that encourages top-notch customer service, and also relaxed customers who are happy to pay for the restaurant’s products. The servicescape encompasses the physical environment of a business where service exchanges take place, and includes elements such as the lighting, layout, music, the smell, and coloring. At Starbucks, the servicescape plays a major role in determining desirable consumption patterns in customers.
The influence of the physical design and decoration of stores and restaurants is extensive, particularly towards the consumer. This evokes two types of reactions in the consumer: avoidance and approach. Approach behaviors encompasses all the desirable and positive reactions that relate to consumerism, and may include a desire to stay and work, explore, or meet with others. Avoidance is the opposite reaction, and includes not wishing to stay and work, explore, or meet with others (Kim, 2009). Approach behaviors are the desired outcome in the service and hospitality industry, as this leads to exchanges and transactions of the store’s goods.
There is strong evidence that the external features of such businesses as Starbucks encourage desirable consumption behavior. Firstly, the furniture and appliances of Starbucks are conducive to a comfortable and welcoming atmosphere. While some tables allow for more privacy with only one or two chairs, others offer a more comfortable setting for working groups that allow for interaction. The scheme of warm woods with both round and square tables is both a classic and earthy look that establishes a cozy appearance.
To highlight the warm wood tones, golds and dark greens are usually incorporated into the coloring of the store. Sometimes the walls may be painted the same green as the emblem of Starbucks, accented with gold detail. The colors vary slightly throughout the seasons as well. During Christmas time, the Christmas special blend coffees, along with other holiday favorite coffees, are displayed with reds, silvers, and golds. Sometimes the store may incorporate other additional decorations, but usually maintaining its customary green and gold scheme.
Several Starbucks are located in areas that allow for an outdoor seating area. Small bistro tables are usually arranged around wire tables with large green umbrellas that shield customers from the sun. While not every Starbucks location allows for an outdoor seating area, many that do also incorporate flowers and plants that are welcoming to the customer. Regardless of the possibility of not having an outdoor seating area, one can always count on at least the indoor environment of Starbucks to be very welcoming and warm.
The smell of Starbucks also plays a vital role in consumption behaviors. Arabica whole coffee beans, or other styles of coffee, can be smelled as soon as one enters the store. The smell is complemented by the array of coffee merchandise that is usually located near the door, a connection that is certainly not a coincidence. The smell of coffee in Starbuck’s is its mainstay and highlighting feature, as coffee is its primary product.
In addition to the smell, music is always playing at every Starbucks location. The music does not vary far from slow to mid tempo jazz, or newer contemporary styles of jazz. This, in addition to the strong smell of coffee and warm wood furniture, aids in establishing a relaxed, modern vibe that is disarming to all customers. This scheme found at Starbucks is entirely different from its other competitors, such as Dunkin Donuts.
Starbucks is novel in that it was the first of its kind as it creates a home away from home atmosphere for consumers. Even the staff is trained to remember regular customers so that they can always greet the customers that return. Social interaction is key to the servicescape, as positive and negative employee/customer reactions are what determine the sale of goods. All social interactions are directly influenced by the environment, in which the interaction occurs. This illustrates the importance of the servicescape. The social interactions, combined with the environmental factors in Starbucks, are what affect the consumers on emotional, physiological, and cognitive levels (Reimer & Kuehn, 2005). The response that these factors evoke, hence are what dictates the desirable consumption patterns in Starbucks.
The environment and physiology elicits particular behaviors in customers in Starbucks. The music is always kept to a softer sound level, along with a slow to medium tempo. If the music were to be loud with a quicker, more frantic pace, many consumers would fee rushed and agitated. In addition, if the temperature of Starbucks were be to kept at a very cold level, this would cause individuals to shiver, which may directly influence the consumer’s choice to either stay or leave.
Even the light can be a determinant of how people choose to stay or leave (Kivela, 2000). At Starbucks, the lighting is always quite soft and warm, with no fluorescent lights. If the latter light was used, however, it may decrease peoples’ abilities to see if they have to wince, which can cause further discomfort and avoidance behaviors. The grooved wooden chairs also play a role in helping people to feel at ease in Starbucks. If the chairs were harder and made of steel, or simply more rigid, people will be less inclined to stay as long at Starbucks.
In summary, the servicescape of Starbucks is conducive to desirable patterns of behavior in its consumers. The lighting, furniture, coloring, smell, sound, and social interactions are all vital factors in creating the Starbucks atmosphere so that consumers can feel welcome and relaxed. The environment allows consumers to meet up with friends, meet with other associates over business, to work alone and get some “quiet time,” or simply to just relax in a comfortable atmosphere while enjoying coffee.
- Kim, W.G. (2009). Customers’ cognitive, emotional, and actionable response to the servicescape: A test of the moderating effect of the restaurant type. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 28.
- Kivela, J. (2000). Consumer research in the restaurant environment. Part 3: analysis, findings and conclusions. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 12(1), 13-30
- Reimer, A. and Kuehn, R. (2005). The impact of servicescape on quality perception. European Journal of Marketing, 39(7/8).