French novelist Marcel Proust wrote a famous series of autobiographical novels called In Search of Lost Time (or Rememberance of Things Past) in which the sense of smell, among others, triggers vivid, emotional memories and unconscious associations. What Proust understood as a writer, Long Horn Steak House and bagel shops understand as marketers: aroma is primal advertising; it can evoke emotions–feelings of comfort and joy–in addition to hunger.
Well, according to Saw a Good Idea, Starbucks is rolling out a product extension that has the potential of diluting the aroma that is the center of their beloved brand.
Gone is the aroma of roasting coffee beans. It’s been replaced by something that would be just as suitable a smell for McDonalds at nine o’clock in the morning. Starbucks offers “fresh-cooked” egg muffins fresh out of the oven, and their smell has taken over the classic “have some coffee and forget about the world for a few minutes” aroma. No longer are our olfactory senses tempted with the smell of coffee, accompanied by the Pavlovian drool forming in our mouths. Instead, we’re hit unexpectedly with the greasy spoon smell of eggs being warmed. Starbucks prides itself on offering the egg muffins all day, so that smell won’t disappear by noon.