I just read a “sleeper” article that may be one of the most important trend pieces of the year. If you have any interest in future trends in marketing, demographics, consumer culture, advertising, or where our society might be headed in a few years, go and read “Is Starbucks the Most Dangerous Competitor to Facebook?” by Jay Baer and Clinton Bonner. Appropriately enough, I found this article via a Tweet, from Olivier Blanchard, a/k/a @TheBrandBuilder.
The article posits that Starbucks is working to reposition itself as an in-store information portal, with all sorts of goodies available to those who go to the stores and log on to its network—and that ads on this network could become the premier place to reach certain consumers, as well as the favored online community that could displace Facebook in our affections…
I’m not sure it’s going to unfold exactly as they see it, but I suspect pieces of it will play out that way. That’s a future that leaves me with more than a little discomfort. It’s like a vertical and horizontal integration of the mind similar to, say, General Motors’ vertical and horizontal integration of the car market starting at least in the 1930s. I don’t like to see so much energy concentrated in one company, whether it’s GM, Google, or Starbucks.
Of course, competitors can arise. But it won’t be easy.
What do you think?