I’ve had the same issue, I try hard not to get my hopes up but there were two mugs that I really HAD to have. I got lucky and found a Las Vegas mug at the Monte Carlo Starbucks but it was the only one and the barista almost didn’t sell it. I explained that we had come to Vegas that weekend and it was also my Birthday weekend. Her co-workers talked her into it. The other must have was an Oklahoma mug (because we are moving soon) so I wanted a mug to remind me of home. The only other mug that I’m missing is a Tucson mug (U of Zona grad) but I have every one of my sorority sisters and my dad on the lookout for it.
Thank you for the post, Jennifer. I didn’t know there was a Tuscon mug. I have AZ and Phoenix, but not Tuscon. If I come across one, I will let you know. The one from OK is one of my favorites. Of course–now they have extended this theme to the international cities. Those mugs are amazing! Best wishes and happy collecting!
My Growing Collection of YAH Mugs from Starbucks
For all of my Starbuck friends, you’ve likely noticed or even bought some of their well merchandized mugs while waiting for your favorite cup of coffee. Last year, while traveling for business in California, I noticed a whimsically designed mug that featured local landmarks and called out the city’s name. Branded as “You Are Here” mugs (YAH), I quickly discovered that what started off as an impulse purchase at check out, has now turned into a mild obsession (as my wife calls it).
I have no idea how much revenue Starbuck’s generates from these $10.95 mugs, and there is no doubt that the company doesn’t need these mugs or any of the other accompanying merchandise to be successful. People come to Starbuck’s for their coffee, tea and perhaps bakery goods. At the same time, I can’t help but marvel at the simplicity, beauty and power of this marketing tactic.
I use those complimentary adjectives because I know the impact the mugs have had on me and I wouldn’t call myself a religious Starbuck’s connoisseur. Nevertheless, whenever I travel, I make sure I find the local Starbuck’s so I can add another mug to my collection. While I’m there, unless I’m in a serious rush, I always order a coffee or some other item. Thus in that respect, the mugs not only drive my continued visits, but also mean I’m purchasing drinks and food from Starbucks when I might otherwise choose to go some place else.
This is the power of these seemingly innocent little mugs. As in other respects, Starbucks has used the power of their brand and the cleverness of their marketing to create interest and sales where there likely wasn’t any before.
With this power, however, comes responsibility–namely, if someone is making a special visit to a Starbucks from out of town to pick up one of these mugs, the store in question better have an ample supply. In most, dare I say all of the cities where these mugs are available, this isn’t an issue. If you happen to go to a location where the mug is sold out, there is probably another store close by that has some.
On the other hand, if you are heading to Disney World, and have your eyes on picking up one of the newly released mugs for each of the four “kingdoms,” (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom), the chances are better that this is uncommon trip and there wont be multiple locations with inventory.
Even still, as I headed to the parks last month with my family (our first visit in three years), it never crossed my mind that some or all of the parks would be sold out. Entering the new Starbucks on Main Street, I found the display case where all the mugs are normally kept and my heart sank–no mugs! I asked one of the workers who was directing traffic, hopeful that there were more in the back–
“I’m sorry,” she said, “We sold out the first week they were available and we have no idea when we’ll receive more stock.”
“Ugh! How about the other parks,” I asked.
“Unfortunately, no. All the parks are sold out.”
Having heard this, I was clearly disappointed. The mugs are only sold at Disney, I wasn’t sure when we’d be back, and, the designs I had seen online were more clever than the normal “city” mugs. I was really looking forward to adding these to my collection and now, I wouldn’t be able to.
Fortunately, my ultimate focus was on spending time with my family vs. collecting Starbuck’s mugs–so the episode is really more of a footnote than the headlines for the trip. However, as I thought about the interest that Starbuck’s had created in this product and how dramatically they had under estimated the supply, it made me think about other situations like this and how important it is to manage those expectations (whether you are a company, a co-worker, a parent or a friend).
The reality is that I probably underestimated how popular these mugs are and it was a little naive of me to think that some or all wouldn’t be sold out (the mugs were just release in January). At the same time, given the exclusivity of the mugs, Starbucks could have made a lot of people happy by offering anyone that had been turned away but was still interested, some sort of rain check that allowed for purchase online when the mugs were sold out in the parks. In fact, the store manager had commented that he received thousands of requests a week for the mugs and most of these sales will be unrecoverable.
If I was a die hard collector, I could go to eBay and for a few hundred dollars, pick up these mugs and add them to my collection. While always an option, that’s not the point. Businesses like Starbucks spend millions of dollars to create and sustain interest in their brand and products. When the customer experience falls short of expectations, companies and/or empowered employees need to figure out a creative solution that attempts to still satisfy the customer (i.e., find another way to sell me a mug). Had someone at Starbuck’s or Disney gone this extra step, this post would be focusing on that positive experience vs. the disappointment I experienced.
I finally broke down and purchased the Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studio Mug via eBay!
Original article and pictures take http://www.matthewtheis.com/the-power-and-problem-with-starbucks-popular-you-are-here-mugs site