Sunday, July 20, 2014

What informs our choices

In the land of milk and honey (and tons o' choices), how do you decide what your favorite will be? This morning I'm thinking about Starbucks. I'm still a relatively new coffee drinker and most coffee gives me stomachaches so I drink it infrequently. However, I've found recently that lattes don't hurt my belly at all. And I like going to Starbucks (as opposed to Mayorga or one of the other coffee places) to get my fix. I like the culture. I like the people watching. I like the lattes. What's not to love?

Now, here's the heart of what I'm curious about? In the land of "there's a Starbucks on every corner" (or so it seems), how do I decide which Starbucks to frequent? How do *I* choose what I like? What happens in my brain to give me that "Yes, this one" reponse? 

There's one in Greenbelt, but I don't stop there. I go to the one in College Park. Why? There are a few reasons. It's brighter. There are more windows. The setup is superior to the one in Greenbelt (which feels more like a cave than a coffee shop). I like the way parking is structured in College Park. Each of the places is situated in a big outdoor mall. But the Greenbelt Starbucks is right in the middle of the mall with a huge parking lot while the College Park Starbucks sits at the end and has its own little lot (and drive-through). I prefer the one that is set back a little. I like the relative privacy. I like having a little lot to sneak into rather than being one of the throng and dealing with a massive lot and lots of cars.

It makes me wonder how the corporate powers that be chose each location. Did they decide on the Greenbelt one because they figured there would be lots of business because people were shopping at the mall already? Or was it some sort of oversight since there is already a Starbucks in the Safeway in the same mall? And does that Starbucks cut into the standalone coffee shop's business? And I wonder which Starbucks has more customers, the Greenbelt one or the College Park one. And why?

I know my choice and why I prefer it. I like the slightly more out of the way feeling of the College Park one. Is it because it feels more private somehow? Is it because it's brighter and more cheery? Is it because when I'm there near sunset, I get a fantastic view of the sky over the parking lot? It's likely a combination of all of these. And it makes me want to study marketing and analysis much more closely. Maybe I'll only get answers as to why I like what I like (rather than learning about why other people choose what they choose). But I'll bet I'll learn a lot about what other people choose as well.

What about all of you (if you're read this far)? What's your favorite? How did you choose it? What informs your choices?

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