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According to Neil Saunders, Managing Director of GlobalData Retail Team, although Starbucks is a brand with a long-standing history of positive social action and community engagement, the recent controversy has done much to tarnish that carefully built reputation. 

While most people will take no action, the sizeable minorities saying that they will use Starbucks less, or boycott the chain for a bit, is likely to have a material impact on Starbucks revenues, even if only in the short term, says the report.

  • Thanks to the swirl of publicity surrounding the incident, 86.7% of American adults are aware of it. However, only 31.7% say they are fully aware of all the details
  • Almost three-quarters of people say that Starbucks is mostly to blame for the incident, with just over 19% saying the police were mostly to blame. Very few (2.1%) believe the men involved were mostly responsible
  • There are even stronger views on the question of whether the Starbucks manager was right to call the police. Just over 80% believe the action was wrong and only 5.4% think it was the right thing to do 
  • Consumers are generally unimpressed by the company’s subsequent handling of the situation. 12.4% of those questioned think Starbucks handled it either very well or quite well, compared to 72% who think it did either quite badly or very badly
  • More worrying for Starbucks is the damage done to its brand. 69.7% say that they think at least a little more negatively of Starbucks than they did before this incident. A quarter of the respondents say their views on the brand are unchanged
  • Despite all of this, 60.5% will take no action against Starbucks. However, almost 18% say they will boycott Starbucks for a bit, and 10.6% claim they will stop going there completely. The influence of social media is evident with 23.4% saying that they have posted complaints on online platforms such as Twitter or Facebook
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