How Sparty's prices its coffee compared to its competitors
For most college students, there are several necessities needed to survive the long academic year.
Among those necessities is one of the most ingrained beverages in the culture of the American university.
Coffee keeps students awake and operating throughout the day.
There is another coffee store that is spread around MSU’s campus and competes with coffee powerhouses.
Sparty’s competes with Starbucks, Biggby and Espresso Royale to sell coffee to the students and faculty of MSU.
MSU English associate professor Emery Petchauer said he mostly drinks espresso, but doesn't seek out a specific brand.
"It matters whether it exists or not," Petchauer said. "I probably drink Starbucks because it's the most available, not necessarily because I think it's any better. It matters whether it exists or not."
Among all products sold at Sparty's, the coffee sector for Sparty’s accounts for 5 percent of its business with coffee and made to order drinks being the primary seller in volume, Associate Director of Retail Food Services Bill Kost said.
“The popularity of the drinks does not influence our pricing structure as we want to deliver value, quality and convenience to our customers above all factors,” Kost said in an email.
The popularity of a coffee brand is also something agribusiness management senior John Szymanski said doesn't really affect where he buys his "basic" black coffee.
"(I buy) more on convenience and where I'm at on campus," Szymanski said. "If I'm in a rush, I'll go to McDonald's ... they usually have the $1 any size, which is nice."
Among the competitors in the area, most of Sparty’s coffee drinks rank as the second cheapest only behind Starbucks, with Biggby and Espresso Royale being generally more expensive.
A Biggby representative said via email the company provides each owner with price tiers for the owners to choose from, so they can choose a tier that suits the area the Biggby is in.
Kost said Sparty’s does see how much its competitors in the areas price their coffee drinks, but its competitors' prices aren't the philosophy when it comes to pricing its coffee drinks.
“Our philosophy is to price our coffee and made to order drinks so that we keep our customers on campus and don’t give them a reason to go elsewhere,” Kost said. “We have recently implemented $0.99 pricing for all three sizes (of coffee) offered by Sparty’s to drive traffic and keep Sparty’s in the forefront of customers minds when making that purchasing decision.”
However, this pricing also takes into account not only the actual coffee, but also the accessories with coffee, Kost said.
“We always review and update our recipe cost for coffee which includes not only the cost of the coffee that goes in each size cup, but also the cost of the cup/lid/stirrer/cream and any other component pieces,” Kost said. “We do also review what the outlook or futures of coffee looks like with consultation from the Procurement group at Food Stores and our local ‘Lansing’ supplier Paramount Coffee.”
All of this is taken into account with how Sparty’s will price their coffee drinks for the next academic year, something that isn’t looked at until early May and implemented after the second session of summer classes.
“We want to provide value, quality and convenience to our customers and keep them on campus to grow our business and Deliver Outstanding Spartan Experiences,” Kost said.