Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Communication Applications: Concerning Coffee

In today's world, communication involves many things--images, symbols, words, gestures, smells, location, etc.
Starbucks is a recognizable brand--and expensive--and puts significant thought into what to communicate about itself and how to communicate its message. Here's a fascinating presentation by historian Bryant Simon discussing the cultural meaning of Starbucks, and the social meanings of coffee, consumption, and commodification. No doubt his forthcoming book on Starbucks will stir up great discussion--conducted over a cup of coffee of course.
While I want you to listen for content, your assignment is two-fold: list the ways Simon communicates his message, and list the ways that Starbucks communicates its message. Be prepared to discuss.


Anonymous said...

Simon starts out with humor to attract his audience and get them to want to pay attention. He will also use hand gestures to help describe what he's trying to say. The variety in the tone of his voice is presented wonderfully and he walks around to keep his audiences eyes on him. If he has rehearsed his speech it is not noticeable - a good sign. He also gives three categories for his audience to remeber easily as well as attracting the attention of those scientific people in his audience and gives an explanation on why people buy a more expensive coffee.
-Reward oneself
-Make yourself look high class
-feel better about yourself
Simon also involves race in his speech to try to connect with others in his audience.

Starbucks tries to communicate its message through artistic interior designs, musical posters on the walls, and putting political information on their cups. Simon also mentions that the Starbucks company buys fair trade coffee making people think "it's as good as Starbucks I should get some"

Ryan B.

Anonymous said...

Bryant Simon has a lot of motion and activity (hand gestures, walking around, pointing to his slides) to attract the audience's attention. He makes sure that they have the changing slides in the background to look at, so they will not feel like they're being lectured. In order to bring the message home, Bryant used a classic technique of teaching in lists of three. He also used a lot of humor. The audience enjoyed his jokes and paid attention in case he would tell any more.

Starbucks uses many channels to reach out to different people. For those that love coffee and caffeine, Starbucks is the most caffineated coffee on the market. This is why some people say that Starbucks coffee is the best. Those people are well and truly addicted to caffeine, and so, they best fulfill their needs with Starbucks. Starbucks is cheap enough to be considered a daily routine for some, but expensive enough to be a treat for others. Thus, high-class people will have a daily Starbucks, but lower-class and middle-class may only have it on special occassions, elevating Starbucks and the Starbucks cafe to a higher plane. As the lower-class people have Starbucks, they become more and more used to the extra caffeine. Then, when they have their normal daily coffee, they find that it is not as nice as the Starbucks. Starbucks feeds upon the caffeine addiction and tries to increase its hold in order to increase their own hold on the consumer. Starbucks also makes you feel like you belong to an elite special socitey. There is artwork spread throughout the cafe, the furniture is luxurious and comfortable, and if you happen to listen to the conversations around you, you will hear discussions on politics, religion, the finer points of life. All of this is done in order to feed the consumer's desire to be part of upper society. The employees also try to learn the names and a few other details about each customer, creating connections and relationships that will attach said person more firmly to Starbucks. Starbucks tries to appease people's consciences by offering fair trade coffee. People believe that since they are buying coffee from a place that has fair trade coffee, they are doing a good thing. Starbucks puts the fair trade coffee right at the door so everyone can see it. However, nobody actually buys it. Only 3% of Starbucks entire coffee selection is fair trade coffee. All in all, Starbucks uses extremely effective tactics in order to reel in customers and keep them there. Joshua Kee.