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Did refugee hiring plan hurt Starbucks?

YouGov BrandIndex report indicates brand perception took hit

Last month Starbucks announced plans to hire 10,000 refugees around the world in the 75 countries where it operates over the next five years, a move that resulted in calls for boycott from some conservative groups.

It was also a move that may have hurt the brand’s perception, according to YouGov BrandIndex in a report Wednesday.

YouGov conducts surveys of about 4,800 people each weekday as a representation of the U.S. population, asking them whether they’ve heard anything about the brand, either positive or negative, which they use to develop a “Buzz score” reflecting consumer perception. 

Chart courtesy of YouGov

Since Starbucks’ Jan. 29 announcement, the Seattle-based coffeehouse chain’s Buzz score fell by two-thirds, YouGov said. 

That Buzz score is as low as it got after Starbucks locked bathrooms in some Los Angeles locations last May, resulting in backlash from advocates for the homeless, YouGov said.

Ted Marzilli, YouGov CEO, also notes that the move may have hurt the bottom line.

Two days before the refugee announcement, YouGov said 30 percent of respondents said they’d consider buying from Starbucks the next time they wanted coffee, the highest it has been in nearly a year. Since then, however, that percentage has dropped to 24 percent.

It should be noted, however, that the surveys did not ask consumers about the refugee plan specifically. Starbucks promoted other things during that period, including its support for hiring members of the military and veterans.

Starbucks did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

Contact Lisa Jennings at [email protected]

Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout

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