Sunday, October 2, 2016

Know When Starbucks Pressure Kicks In With Kids

Coffee In A Cup

If you frequent Starbucks regularly like I do, you’ll notice the habit starts pretty darn early. I often see gaggles of kids hanging out there before and after school.

Which got me to thinking: I wonder what age the Starbucks habit kicks in these days.

So I sifted through transactions over the last year to find the answer. Here’s what I found. It kicks in significantly at age 12 and takes it up another big notch at age 14 (see chart).

Bar chart.

That makes sense. The first bump roughly coincides with the passage into middle school and the second with high school. Those are two classic transitions where kids naturally enjoy more independence and an increased desire to emulate adult habits.

So, is this early Starbucks affinity bad? Well, I can certainly think of much worse places for kids to hang out. In the grand scheme of things, Starbucks is a clean, safe, and harmless social venue.

But it is pricey. The average transaction amount we see for a 14 year old is $6.26. That’s right up there with what we found for average fast food purchases by kids.

Three takeaways for parents:

  1. Realize that kids will come under increasing peer pressure to make outings to Starbucks (and other popular establishments) as they transition to middle school and onto high school.
  2. Set some budget boundaries ahead of time to keep spending under control.
  3. Arm your kids with some preemptive money conversation scripts to avoid awkward interactions with friends while politely declining to overspend.

Just a few things to ponder over your next pumpkin spice latte.

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