Starbucks app — to blame for over-the-top drinks?

Starbucks app — to blame for over-the-top drinks?


You take a sip.

A sweet, bitter stream of ice-cold coffee wraps around your taste buds. Still buzzing, your tongue envelopes a full-bodied, creamy frappuccino — sipping away every ounce of stress…

Starbucks has a fan club, for a reason.

But, when it comes to a perfectly, precise drink — how far is too far? 

We’re talking about a very viral Starbucks order1 in particular, one that went to Edward. The “drink” — if you can call it that — boasted 13 modifications: 7 pumps of dark caramel sauce and 5 shots of banana.

Chew on that, for a sec.


Don’t worry, you don’t have to drink it…sip on these 13 new insights instead. 😘

For starters, 30% say a Frappuccino is their go-to order. Sure, 21% like a good iced coffee or a cold brew, but let’s face it, they’re really here for the milk — and sugar. 

What's your go-to Starbucks order?

It’s okay to be cliché.

Now, that’s basic information.

So, let’s add an extra scoop of data to it. After all, there’s no way our consumer panel can go as custom as 7 pumps of dark caramel syrup, right? 

Not so fast.

In fact, in-store, 56% get a custom drink nearly every time they order. And, for 60%, that means 3, or more, requests per drink. As you dig into the details, the requests look eerily similar to Mr. Scissorhands’ above.

Which is probably why, 53% of people customize their coffee with milk. At 50%, syrup is the next most popular option; followed by whipped cream, at 49%. 

When you customize your drink, what do you usually add?

When you customize your drink, what do you usually add?

Are you seeing this, too?

That’s basically every major ingredient inside of a frappuccino: milk, syrup and whipped cream. 

Somewhere, hidden deep inside of a cell phone, is a tiny little army of Edwards — whipping up a frenzy of highly custom coffee orders on the Starbucks app.

But is their behavior any different in-store, than on the app?

Yes, it is.

Buyers are braver, on the Starbucks app.

Funny how that works. 

Maybe it’s more embarrassing to make 30 requests, in-person. Or, maybe you think the app is more accurate than a Barista writing down your order. Whatever it is, inside the safety of the app, custom behaviors go way up.

Take a look.

On the app, 69% order a custom drink nearly every time: a 13-point spread from the in-store data, above. But, there’s more. Because 81% admit that their last app order was custom (up 25 points from in-store data). 

For your last Starbucks app order, did you order a custom drink?

For your last Starbucks app order, did you order a custom drink?

Yes, Starbucks drinkers are more daring behind a device.

In fact, 48% are more comfortable ordering a custom drink on the app. That makes sense. After all, if you’re really looking to add 5 pumps of banana, you may not want the whole world to know.

Sounds like our buyers may be a little shy. 

Because, even though we can clearly see their app + web behaviors indicating their desire to customize, they’re a bit hesitant to admit why. 

Here’s what I mean.

We asked why they prefer to go custom on the app, and 62% say it’s easier to type in. While that might be true, I have a sneaking suspicion that the second most popular reason may be a little more accurate.

They feel more comfortable.

Do you feel more comfortable ordering a customized drink on the app or in the store?

Do you feel more comfortable ordering a customized drink on the app or in the store?

58% say that they feel more comfortable being specific on the app than they do in person. Which, if you’re often ordering drinks with more than 3 requests, I can totally understand.

Who knows, maybe we’ll start an Edward fan club — a new one, not the Twilight series version.

So, where does Starbucks stand in all this?

On the right side of the customer’s right to customize. They’re smart for that move. Why? At the end of the day, people will pay up to 86% more for a great customer experience.3 

So, while buyers may go a bit crazy on the app — it also sets Starbucks apart. No other brand comes close to Starbucks’ customer experience. And that’s a beautiful thing.

Because in marketing, as in coffee, the customer is king. 



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