More and more of today’s consumers are considering a company’s political values before they purchase.
Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz’s January promised to hire 10,000 refugees over the next five years (and the boycotts that followed) seem to have brought the famous coffee chain to its lowest perception level in more than 7 months.
A YouGov Brand Index chart (linked below) shows a sharp drop in brand value perception between January and February 2017.
Starbucks argues that its longtime brand equity management provider saw no change in consumer sentiment during those months, and that Schultz’s stepping down has nothing to do with the refugee announcement.
Schultz has always made an effort to identify Starbucks with certain values and political views, including support for same sex marriage. His decision to hire 10,000 refugees was a reponse to President Trump’s controversial travel ban (signed January 27th). “Not every decision is an economic one,” said Schultz.
Trump supporters were upset with the Starbucks CEO for not emphasizing the hiring of Americans, especially considering the company’s longstanding commitment to hiring veterans and out-of-work youth who aren’t in school.
Starbucks is currently on track to hire 25,000 veterans (and military spouses) by the end of 2025.
There are roughly 26,000 brick-and-mortar Starbucks locations worldwide. The company has plans to build 12,000 more during the next five years, creating an estimated 240,000 jobs.
Starbucks President and Chief Operating Officer Kevin Johnson will become the new CEO in April, with Schultz stepping down to the position of executive chairman.
Rumor has it that Schultz is considering running for office.
“Howard Schultz is definitely being pursued” to run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, said former presidential adviser David Gergen.
Editor’s note: Schultz’s promise was just hot air, because it appears he already planned to leave Starbucks. But it also seems he may have damaged Starbucks reputation. If he does run for political office, he has already committed his first ethical violation, damaging Starbucks just to pump up his own reputation.