Situation: What They Think Research was asked to conduct a qualitative research study for Starbucks to help it understand the lifecycle of a Starbucks customer. Starbucks categorized its customers by how long they had been customers and how often they visited. Starbucks was interested in learning more about each of these categories of customers. Specifically, Starbucks wanted to understand how customers enter the franchise, the key drivers that lead to loyal/frequent customers, the triggers that influence them to leave the franchise, and the attitudinal/behavioral characteristics that differentiate a new customer from a longer-tenured customer.

Solution: Twelve focus groups conducted in three markets representing varying degrees of Starbucks brand loyalty. Participants were asked to participate in two homework assignments: 1) Complete a diary about their Starbucks habits and behavior and 2) Create a collage that represents Starbucks and the role it plays in their life.

Result: What They Think Research redefined customer categories, not by the length of time they had been going to Starbucks, but rather by behaviors and attitudes toward Starbucks. Additionally, key drivers of loyalty and frequency were identified that were consistent among all categories, as well as those that were unique to each category. What They Think Research made recommendations to address the needs in each category. These recommendations focused on: Store design/atmosphere, Current and new menu items, Marketing and promotional programs, and Customer relations. 

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