Although a new Starbucks opening in Kenmore Square brings more options for the chain’s loyal drinkers right across the street from the Starbucks in Barnes and Noble, coffee competitors in the area said they are not worried about the competition.
The new store is set to open in early 2013, according to a Starbucks spokesperson.
The store is expected to be located next to the Wine Gallery and Eastern Standard and to offer a second choice for customers of the Starbucks coffee served by Barnes and Noble across the street, according to an email from the spokesperson.
It will also be in direct competition with the New England stronghold coffee supplier, Dunkin’ Donuts.
Kenmore Square Dunkin’ Donuts Assistant Manager Mostpha Mouzoune said the new Starbucks will not affect their business because customer choice comes down to price and personal taste.
“It doesn’t worry me at all,” he said. “If people like Starbucks, they go to Starbucks. They have stronger coffee than Dunkin’ Donuts. But most people come here because Dunkin’ Donuts is cheaper.”
Both chains have at least 50 stores in Boston, making them each other’s biggest competition in the city.
But the other competition Starbucks will face in Kenmore is from McDonald’s, according to Frederic Brunel, a Boston University marketing professor.
“McDonald’s has actually been rebranding itself much more as a café,” he said. “They’ve been serving Green Mountain coffee and have been very aggressive. They’ve been offering Wi-Fi in their stores, and in a lot of their stores they’ve introduced wood paneling and little blue Murano glass pendant lights.”
McDonald’s, however, is not worried about its new neighbor, said Kenmore Store Manager Johnny Chiu.
“I don’t think it will hurt us at all because McDonald’s [coffee] is cheaper,” Chiu said. “And right now we’ve been expanding to holiday flavors [for lattes], which makes us competitive.”
This is a common business strategy, Brunel said.
Starbucks has been making an effort to introduce more breakfast food, while Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s have added espresso drinks to their menus, he said.
“You have in some ways a McDonaldization and Dunkinization of Starbucks and a Starbuckization of McDonalds and Dunkin’ Donuts, so that the three of them are competing more strongly,” he said.
Despite increasing similarities among the three, some customers said they will stay loyal to their brand of choice.
School of Management senior Carlos Rojas said he welcomes the new Kenmore Square Starbucks because he prefers the ambience and atmosphere to that of other coffee shops.
“I’ll definitely be going to the new Starbucks instead of the Barnes and Noble one,” he said, adding that the Starbucks in Barnes and Noble is not quite of the same quality as an official Starbucks location.
College of Arts and Sciences sophomore Mariel Hathaway said she will stick with Dunkin’ Donuts.
“I prefer Dunkin’ across the board,” she said. “I think the coffee tastes better and it’s less expensive. If I’m going to be in this area anyway, then I would go to Dunkin’ first.”
Other coffee drinkers said convenience is key.
“I generally prefer Starbucks, but I will drink Dunkin’ Donuts as well,” said Starbucks customer Cynthia Barakatt, 51, a daily Starbucks customer who works in Kenmore Square. “It all comes down to convenience really. [I prefer] whichever is closest and most accessible.”
Despite the variety of coffee choices in Kenmore Square, both Dunkin’ Donuts and McDonald’s will be outnumbered in the area by Starbucks, which has two other stores within a three-block radius of Kenmore Square in addition to the Barnes and Noble location.
While Dunkin’ Donuts has five locations in the Kenmore area, four of those are inside Fenway Park and inaccessible to the general public, according to the Dunkin’ Donuts website.
The increased visibility of Starbucks by comparison could pose a problem for the coffee giant, Brunel said.
“You could potentially be in a situation where there are too many stores, which actually becomes unprofitable because you are spreading the demand across too many locations,” he said.
Some coffee drinkers agree that too many Starbucks stores might turn them off.
“I think it’s a little excessive,” Hathaway said. “I would rather have more Dunkin’ Donuts, honestly.”
Rojas, however, said the expansion would be welcome.
“I wouldn’t mind if Starbucks expanded here like in New York,” Rojas said. “That would be great. I don’t get sick of seeing them.”
However, Brunel warns that opening too many stores could also change Starbucks’s image.
“Traditionally they have been the more exclusive coffee brand, the one that’s not as mainstream as some of the others,” he said. “So as they open more and more locations they are giving away some of that exclusivity and that type of image.”
It is unclear whether this new Starbucks location is the jumping point for a new wave of expansion.
Starbucks went before the Boston Licensing board in September to apply for a seven-day Common Victualler license for a location in South Boston.
Starbucks declined to comment on this point, although reports say the license was approved.