Starbucks’ Decision to Shift Consumers towards Non-dairy Milk: How Strong Are Attitudes towards Milk?

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Starbucks’ recent decision to emphasize on non-dairy options for using as alternatives to milk has brought about a great tension in the dairy industry of the US. However, the decision tends to act as a driving force for other food services and agricultural industries, thereby adding fuel towards the use of nuts, soy and other beverages in the foodservice sectors. Pertaining to the notions of the socio-psychological concept of consumer attitudes, it can be stated the decision of Starbucks tend to have a strong and powerful impact on the thinking and behavior of consumers along with marketers.

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The consumer behavioral outcomes reveal that the decision of customers regarding the purchase or use of a product not only depends upon the quality, tangibility, and benefits provided to the individual self but also its impact on the environment and society. In this regard, it can be said that Starbucks' decision to shift towards non-dairy options may be well-accepted. It is found that in total, dairy use resulted in about 21% of the global carbon footprint of Starbucks in 2018 and thus, the company has aimed in reducing carbon consumption to promote sustainability (, 2020). However, dairy-free drinks tend to cost more than that of the dairy-drinks. In this context, the attitudes of consumers towards milk appear to be strong. Raising the prices of the drinks may turn off customers if the competitors continue to sell dairy-drinks at low prices (Insider, 2020).

Thus, by applying the theory of motivation proposed by Maslow, it can be said that Starbucks may fail in meeting the safety needs of consumers by increasing the prices of the dairy-free drinks. However, pertaining to the long-term relationships developed by Starbucks due to the best quality of its coffee, it is found that the company has managed to provide a sense of community and belonging to the customers (Kumar, 2016). This may prevent them from switching to other brands if prices increase, Moreover, the company has attempted to delve into a sustainable cause to switch to non-dairy alternatives. On the contrary, the innovative farm practices and use of the latest technology have caused the ecological footprint of the coffee industry to shrink. The attitude strength of consumers is determined by their knowledge about the products and the extent to which they care about (Wu et al. 2016). The planet-friendly approach of Starbucks is appreciated since, in the 21st-century business market, the concern for environmental sustainability is increasing. Considering this fact, it can be said that the attitudes of consumers towards milk are strong since the production and use of dairy products tend to bring an increase in the emission of greenhouse gases, thereby harming the planet. The cognitive appraisal approach is based on emotions underlying the motivational roots for explaining their impact on consumer behaviors. This approach has gained popularity since its promising ability to study consumer emotions. Using this approach in the case of Starbucks, it can be stated that ‘outcome desirability’, referring to the outcome of the decision appears to be positive since it will assist the company in achieving the benchmark of achieving environmental sustainability.


  1. (2020). Bloomberg - Are you a robot?. [online] Available at: [Accessed 24 Feb. 2020].
  2. Insider. (2020). Vegans are holding sit-ins at Starbucks because dairy-free drinks cost more. [online] Available at: [Accessed 24 Feb. 2020].
  3. Kumar, K., 2016. An Analysis on Brand Loyalty: A Case Study on Starbucks.
  4. So, J., Kuang, K. and Cho, H., 2016. Reexamining fear appeal models from cognitive appraisal theory and functional emotion theory perspectives. Communication Monographs, 83(1), pp.120-144.
  5. Wu, T.J., Tsai, H.T. and Tai, Y.N., 2016. Would corporate social responsibility affect consumers’ attitudes towards brand and purchase behavior? Buyer-seller guanxi as the moderator. Revista de Cercetare si Interventie Sociala, 53, pp.272-287.
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Starbucks’ Decision to Shift Consumers towards Non-dairy Milk: How Strong Are Attitudes towards Milk? (2022, Jun 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 21, 2024, from
“Starbucks’ Decision to Shift Consumers towards Non-dairy Milk: How Strong Are Attitudes towards Milk?” Edubirdie, 09 Jun. 2022,
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Starbucks’ Decision to Shift Consumers towards Non-dairy Milk: How Strong Are Attitudes towards Milk? [Internet] Edubirdie. 2022 Jun 09 [cited 2024 May 21]. Available from:

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