Change for the Better… right?

What is the allure of sitting in a coffee shop, writing down ideas in a sophisticated notebook, catching up on the latest and must-reads, or spending hours upon hours on your laptop? Is it the preconceived romance behind this notion? I’ll tell you this much, it is a costly habit that I have come to know.  So why do people still do it?

I can see one of the factors being the overwhelming allure of the swanky ambience.  For example, take the layout of Starbucks.  It is most definitely alluring and inviting with their comfortable couches, soft lighting, and a friendly and classy atmosphere.  But like I said, it is expensive.  Even though there are plenty of expensive coffee shops propped all about the city, there are cheaper solutions that most of the population go for, like Tim Hortons.  This establishment offers good hot drinks and food for the fraction of the price. Even though it is not as decoratively inviting as Starbucks (well according to my aesthetic taste), there is a strong following of loyal customers.

However, it seems that Tim Hortons and McDonalds are attempting to slowly change. I was recently introduced to an article about the revamp plans that Tim Hortons has for their stores, which include features like soft lighting, wi-fi, and leather seats.  I joked saying that they are targeting people like me, but make no mistake… they are.  However, as a friend pointed out, they really have no need to ensnare a new genre of customers as they already have their faithful ones.  But Paul House (executive chairman, president and CEO of Tim Hortons) has other plans, wanting to “encourage customers to come inside, sit and perhaps spend a little more money, rather than zooming through the drive through”.  He goes further by stating that he isn’t afraid of alienating their core customers.  They claim that they are just “reacting to the evolving tastes of Canadian coffee drinkers”, but what do you think?  On one hand, yes the menu prices might increase.  But, they will still be offering cheaper prices than their expensive competitors.  Take, for example, their espresso based beverages will be “40% cheaper than Starbucks”.

I honestly don’t know what to think.  I love swanky coffee shops.  However, as my dad frequently says, why fix something that isn’t broken?

Source:  “Upscale Time Hortons ‘ambient’ revamp planned”.  The Canadian Press. Nov 20, 2011

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