While coffee drinkers appear to be getting over the revelation of Starbucks using “cochineal extract” in its Strawberry & Creme Frappuccino coloring in the US, the general population’s perception of the chain has dropped considerably more.
Since the news broke on March 27th from a vegan news site, Starbucks perception from both coffee drinkers and the general population declined for a week. Normally, coffee drinkers rank Starbucks much higher than the population at large, and still do after the incident.
However, the drop didn’t last long for coffee drinkers, many of whom probably patronize Starbucks regularly – by April 5th, their perception scores were beginning to rebound.
On the other hand, the general population of adults 18+ kept declining until April 10th, where it has pretty much remained since then.
Starbucks was measured with YouGov BrandIndex’s Buzz score, which asks respondents: “If you've heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth, was it positive or negative?” For this research, all respondents were screened in two categories: adults 18+ who have consumed coffee or tea in the past three months; and all adults 18+.
YouGov BrandIndex measurement scores range from 100 to -100 and are compiled by subtracting negative feedback from positive. A zero score means equal positive and negative feedback.
On March 27th, when the site thisisvegetarian.com leaked the ingredients from an anonymous barista, Starbucks had a 42 buzz score amongst coffee drinkers compared to 18 for the general population. Both scores dipped for a week, the former down to 31 and latter to 10 by April 4th.
Since that date, the coffee drinker buzz score for Starbucks has crept back up to 37, a modest improvement but still below the 42 score from when the news cycle began.
Unlike the coffee drinker pattern, the general population’s buzz score continued descending, to 7 on April 10th, and a day later moving up to 8, still a full 29 points below the coffee drinkers’ low score on April 4th.