Field Research Report: Starbucks on 15th and Market St.

I did my Field Research at the Starbucks on 15th and Market Street in Center City Philadelphia.  When I walked in I realized it was one of the smaller Starbucks Ive been to.  There was about six tables and two counters lined with chairs for people to sit at.  There was tons of advertisement lining the walls and in front of the register counter.  Mostly about the new deals they have for the season.  Advertisements included the Starbucks Rewards Card.  A card for people to put money on and get better deals.  There was advertisements for pastries, coffee flavors, and other Starbucks products.  They also promote free WiFi at every location.  Starbucks definitely encourages mobile media usage.  Starbucks was actually 2012’s Mobile Marketer of the year.  The sophisticated Starbucks atmosphere allows free wifi and tons of outlets for people to charge their devices.  The atmosphere promotes computer usage and phone usage for people to do their work and sip coffee.  It seemed that coffee and mobile devices go hand in hand at Starbucks.  There was many different people at Starbucks during the two hour period.  Many business men and women coming in and out during their lunch break.  College students doing work filled most of the tables.  Very rarely was their people just sitting enjoying only a coffee and pastry.  It was a very diverse Starbucks.  There was Indian, Caucasian, African Amerian, Asian, etc.  Many people were dressed in work attire( suits, dresses, skirts, ties).  College students were in more casual attir(sweatshirts, sweaters, jeans, sweatpants).  Sometimes there would be a Philadelphia citizen coming I and ordering a coffee and staying for a short period of time.  Most of the time people are alone.  The business workers come in pairs or groups during their lunch break.  The business workers would take calls, mingle with their colleagues, and check their phones occasionally.  The devices used were computers, iPhones, iPads, iPods, and other cell phones.

            People in line are taking phone calls, checking emails, texting, talking on their Bluetooth, and talking to other people in line.  Computers are normally in a bag as they wait.  The people sitting are on their computers with a phone nearby.  Computers are used mostly for doing work.  They do go on social media, check emails, and other things. There is always coffee on the table while people were doing their work.  The person sitting next to me asked me if I had an iPhone charge and also what the Wifi connection was.  Mobile media usage is a common occurance in Starbucks.  The person next to me also had a routine of doing work on her computer, stopping, checking her phone for about five minutes, and continuing her work.  I saw a couple of African American Philadelphia citizens come in and buy a coffee and only sit for about five minutes.  They rarely checked their phones if they had one.  There was actually a homeless person sitting outside asking commuters for money.

            Starbucks is a place where having more than one mobile device is completely normal.  The sophisticated café experience Starbucks promotes consists of constant computer and phone usage.  Mobile devices are usually used while people sip coffee.  I noticed that that was the most common occurrence.  Caffiene and mobile devices are connected here.  Many colleagues take their break at Starbucks to get their caffeine fix and also check their phone for calls or emails.  College students drink coffee, do work on their computer, and check their phone simultaneously.  Everyone seemed to keep to themselves but also had no problem talking to a person sitting nearby to ask them a question, usually pertaining to mobile media(Do you have a charger, whats the wifi password, Can I use the outlet near your seat?).  There was always café music playing.  Mostly soul or blues music.

            I thought since anyone who came into Starbucks bought a coffee I could make an app where buying coffee and helping someone can be part of the experience.  My idea is that anytime someone buys a small(short) coffee a small(short) coffee would be donated to the nearest homeless shelter.

Observing mobile device usage in this area made me realize how important and necessary mobility is.  People use these devices for more than just the Internet and calling people.  Mobility can be used to help people also.  Using mobile devices to raise awareness for a social justice cause will be easier for our generation.  It can spread awareness to the masses because of the connection between masses of people.


One thought on “Field Research Report: Starbucks on 15th and Market St.”

  1. I like the concept of linking consumption and social justice; there is certainly a lot of research on this. Some of that research is critical, which would be important to take into account. I wonder though if you can think a bit bigger, and make it about more than just an “in-kind” donation of the same product. Lots of stores, for example, donate a portion of their sales to local charities on a rolling basis. Is there a way your app could take advantage of the ubiquity of mobile devices and consumerism to address social justice a bit more broadly than what is suggested here. As presented at the moment, it’s sort of like those credit cards that donate a percentage of what you spend to social justice. Alternatively, you could tie it to “check ins” rather than spending (alleviating some of the critiques one might hear about promoting consumerism more than social justice), and adapt the foursquare model for a social justice aim.

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