A hilarious episode of The Simpsons presented what may be the growing sentiments of consumers towards the brand. In the episode in question, Bart Simpson, the naughty son of equally naughty Homer Simpson goes to the mall to do what the average American kid does at the mall – indulge the spirits of consumerism. As he moves from shop to shop he notices that the number of Starbucks seem to increase virtually as he watches. Bart is not a happy camper because some of his favourite “small time” shops are being edged out of business either due to the sheer financial offer they are unable to refuse or the fact that Starbucks is able to politely rely on the market forces to drive the smaller players out of business. By the time Bart Simpson leaves the mall after his brief visit, the entire mall is composed of nothing else but Starbucks! This is obviously an exaggeration but the fact that it gets portrayed in such a popular television series reflects or influences the feelings of consumers towards the brand. Less than a decade ago, virtually everybody in the west was pleased to have a Starbucks at “a nearby corner”.
Is Starbucks a victim of its own success? Has the brand gone too far? Is there a limit as to how much a brand can grow and still remain a loved brand?