Its that time of the year where people burn cash for the sake of a Starbucks-branded planner only to end up at your disposal. Drinking these premium (and seasonal) drinks almost every day for one certain goal yet, in a few months of acquiring the planner you get disappointed on why did you do it. Did you plan out properly your expense or is this some sort of hype train you just jumped in recklessly?
Every year people go crazy with this hype. The moment Starbucks announces their planner for the year you’d be like “OMG I HAVE TO GET THIS!”. What’s the big idea? Does a Starbucks planner contain fairy dust? Is a planner still worth it given all the planning apps out there? Let’s dig a little deep shall we?
From the once Starbucks fanatic…
I admit I was once part of this hype. I used to go to SB almost everyday to work and as they announced their launching of their planner, I got interested. During those days I usually work in SB almost everyday so I then collected stickers on the process because why not? I keep on seeing people so excited on getting one so I got curious. After some time of collection, I acquired not just one, but three… Yes, THREE planners. That’s how addicted I was to SB back then! Upon checking, there’s nothing really special. It’s just a calendar where you could place activities made with a hippy design only branded by Starbucks. I got a little disappointed due to the fact that it doesn’t differ from any planners out there. I can get a $2 planner with the same design and quality. It leaves me questioning again why do people fall for this trap?
Brand Psychology, social status, and redeeming factor
Starbucks has been a status symbol in the Philippines and every year this has become a tradition in the country. You know how branding works. Once people are loyal to it they will always stick to it. Like how people perceive Apple products as something that would make you look cool and entitled rather than looking it into its usability and practicality. Starbucks is like the iPhone of planners. Sure, Starbucks does offer a unique experience but is that what you’re really after? The Philippines is one of the most socially-engaged people in terms of social media presence so bragging is always present. There are people that really give in to burning a lot of money just to make them at-par with society. What’s interesting is the hype becomes contagious that it makes you want to go for it. It’s a thing called fear of missing out (FOMO). You feel insecure that you’re compelled to catch up with society’s trends. The thing is you don’t have to. Why would you spend on a brand new phone when you clearly have an existing one that still works? Don’t feed your ego.
Another one would be the redeeming factor. Ahhhh yes that reward after drinking tons of sugar… I mean drinks, you’ll finally get your hands on the reward! Do you remember when you were a kid, your teacher gives you stars for a job well done? Everybody loves that sense of accomplishment and its what drives us to nail our goals consistently and the planner has became a symbol of trophy. The same concept applies. Collect 18 stickers to redeem your prize. SB has gamified the system to lure you guys to a depreciating reward. A planner’s life is only up to one year. Your prize goes to the dust after its glory days. Then acquire another one and routinely do this every year? I’ll leave that up to you.
Guilt-tripping of the people
There’s this other side of society that tends to become against this notion. People would advise you to just spend your money on something else than to collect stickers for the planner. We now live in the world of technology and people barely write noways because of it. There are tons of apps out there that can do better yet some people still prefer to write as their own preference. The truth is no matter how much reality you slap them it’s not going to work.
The business model that never worked for anyone else
A lot of coffee shops tried to copy this concept yet didn’t trended out well. Say The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf (CBTL) does the same, how come it’s not exciting as it is on Starbucks? Again it’s branding. Is it the same quality? I think so. Starbucks made the first dibs to create this model that is now known to draw a lot of people, increasing their sales and revamping their design every year. Probably sometime in the near future somebody will try to disrupt this. If they do, I wonder how will this affect the perspective of people in terms of branding? Will they still continue despite a better product?
This is the bread and butter of the trend, the brain hack of offering it within a timeframe. Since the planner comes only once a year people take advantage of it. What if Starbucks releases a seasonal planner every year? Say every autumn there’s an autumn-themed planner or summer-themed for summer, are you still going to collect those 4 seasons? I guess the thing here is the more you prologue the more valuable it would be and you’re compelled to catch the deadline.
Testing the waters – What if we replace the reward of a different item
Let’s say the reward is not related to a planner. Say a cellphone casing or an underwear, do you think people would still pursue their star-collecting challenge? If the context would be based on branding then there’s a huge chance it could. Weird if the product seems irrelevant but whatever works will surely work for them and if you still did pursue it means you’re really a huge fanatic of their brand.
At the end of the day, it’s our own discretion to get one. As long as you have the money, go for it whether for hype or usability reasons. No one’s gonna stop you, not even logic or reasoning. Planners are not a necessity but would sure help organize your life. The next time you get one without a practical use, just hang it on a picture frame with your selfie on it. After all, it is a trophy, not a planner.
Seasons greetings everyone!
P.S. – I tried to be unbiased so please treat everything with a grain of salt