We've all probably noticed many parents do bring their young children into Starbucks when they're seeking their own caffeine fix. And I'm pretty sure that anybody who frequents a Starbucks near a high school has seen their local cafe jam-packed with teens at certain times of the day. I've definitely experienced the high-volume chatter and rapid rate at which baristas must sling Frappuccinos when a whole bunch of high school kids alight on a Starbucks all at once.
An article from MSNBC this week explored Starbucks' expanding relationship with kids (and the possible pitfalls). Starbucks does offer juice and milk, and the company is looking into other age-appropriate menu ideas, since many people recognize that while some Frappuccinos may seem reasonably kid-friendly, the non-diet varieties contain a boatload of calories. Furthermore, although Starbucks does offer fruit, veggies, and low-fat pastries, there are still plenty of options that aren't so good for the waistline. These are risky elements where kids are concerned, given the reality that kids today are heavier than in past generations.
Luckily for shareholders, Starbucks appears to recognize that although it's a very smart idea to provide alternatives that are appropriate for the younger generation, it also has to be careful not to appear to market too aggressively to children. So far, it appears that children have pretty much entered the fold of their own (or their parents') accord.
Heavy-handed marketing to kids can open up an ugly can of worms. Parents and consumer groups often go on the warpath concerning companies that deliberately advertise to children, particularly if the products they're peddling are viewed as inappropriate. One of the most prominent examples from the annals of advertising history is probably Reynolds American's
More recently, fast-food companies have certainly experienced similar controversy. For example, Burger King
It's no secret that many companies would like to rope in young customers so that they turn into loyal grown-up customers, although some consumers see that strategy as nothing short of diabolical. For Starbucks, offering the appropriate options for the youth market is a wise idea, since alienating families and teens just won't do. But it's comforting that Starbucks seems cognizant of the fact that it has to accomplish this very, very carefully.