Starbucks a Top Choice for 1st dates – Futures Perspectives

Starbucks is the most popular location for first dates according to a survey by online dating app Clover. This is another waycoffee futures that the coffee chain has impacted (or benefitted from) not only technology in consumer space but also culture as space. Focused on the social and economic factors, this story is an interesting case when looking at exploring futures.

Information and Futures Exploration:

    Starbucks is first among first dates with one in three singles reporting that meeting for coffee is best for a first date according to the online dating site match.com. Also, in a clever partnership – match.com “recently added a “Meet at Starbucks” feature to make it easier for singles to get together for a coffee date.” Results from a similar survey by Clover, another dating app reveal that casual establishments have surpassed fine dining and nightlife with Starbucks at the top followed by Chipotle and Panera with three coffee chains on the list of top 30 spots (including Blue Bottle woohoo NOLA style iced!).

    Much of the futures signals we have previously watched from Starbucks have been their technology partnerships of note (or economic with hiring practices) because of the extent and reach they have granted the partnered tech players into mass consumer experience. However, this is of interest because it reveals directions primarily in the futures categories of Social and Economic.

Social:

  • Focus for this aspect of social life on casual restaurants and coffee shops 
  • Women reportedly more likely to prefer coffee shops for the benefit in quickly screening dates.
  • Starbucks as brand referred to as “familiar, dependable, and everywhere,” “everybody knows Starbucks, making it the most neutral ground,” and “a reliable, boring friend.” “No one is impressed by Starbucks, and that’s why it’s a brilliant place to meet somebody” (Drake Baer Business Insider 4/10/15). 
  • The shifting expectations of dating between genders

Economic

  • The centrality of the partnerships between the cultural stakeholders Starbucks and dating sites/apps benefiting their market slice
  • the success of the chain versus local cafes
  • the successful penetration of cafe culture into society and its impacts on where money is spent 

This does, as Starbucks stories tend to, have a technology angle as well in the online dating services with the tech engagement happening pre-coffee and not during purchase or onsite. As always with technology directions there are interesting cultural and economic forces at play and under impact.

So a question emerges – in situations like this where should we have looked to foresee this scenario? In the tech of the dating services, in the economic partnerships, or in the cultural impact of them combined? Perhaps this is a good example of looking at crosscut trends that intersect with interesting results. This certainly is not an example of an unpredicted wild card but what surprises could have impacts on this scenario?

Take Aways/Take Forwards:

  We have a new baseline standard future. Does this shift the likelihood of some less plausible alternative futures? What new partnerships will these players form or what unrelated industries will similarly use data to capitalize upon synergies born of cultural directions? 

    How shall we consider such changes when they are still on the horizon? Cultural institutions such as libraries are impacted highly by societal shifts and are making cultural impacts themselves with shifting space uses and creation services. How will such societal entities conceive of or measure impacts upon their expected futures or strengthen possible alternative futures?

    Cafes which play to as well as actively craft existing hyper-local cultural norms including disconnected coffee shops that intentionally don’t offer wifi for working customers but are known as great meet up spots. What alternative futures might other cafes steer towards to maintain strong niches. What is a new vision for cafes striving for more now likely preferable futures?

    “Starbucks is so familiar that it’s invisible, so you can focus your attention on this human being that you’re interacting with” even though you met through an app (Drake Baer Business Insider 4/10/15). The capital of situational disconnecting. 

And just FYI – more points to prospectives who suggest artisan coffee shops over chains.

And perhaps more importantly in the world of coffee futures – SpaceX just sent an espresso machine to the astronauts on the International Space Station.

-Joe Murphy Librarian

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