Starbucks’ global expansion has been extremely rapid as well as strategic. It’s first international store was opened in Tokyo in 1996, with the UK following in 1998. The company finally opened its first Latin American store in Mexico City in 2002. The brand’s global reach increased to cover Russia in 2007 and then Vietnam in 2013. When they opened stores in Panama in 2015, they reached the milestone of achieving 99% of ethically sourced coffee. Today, the company has more than 26,000 stores throughout 75 countries and is expected to keep its growth momentum in the coming years.
Ever since it’s early days, Starbucks has thrived to be what they call the ‘Third Place’ which is a place somewhere between work and home but also to build its brand identity by offering its customers a relaxing and delightful experience. Starbucks has also built its brand on matters that some would consider out of the box, by consistently defying conventional wisdom.
Unlike other companies, Starbucks chooses not to advertise aggressively. Also, Starbucks does not make cost-cutting a dominant trait of theirs. They choose to emphasize non-routine procedures in order to create excitement among their staff instead of trying to streamline procedures. In addition, Starbucks decided to make their employees partners by offering them stock options and health insurance when a lot of other companies did not. These are just a small list of things that they have done to define the company’s intention to go against the norm.
Rather than relying solely on quantitative market research, Starbucks chooses casual and more informal chats with their customers to capture overall mood and gather valuable feedback. Clever and unique ways of understanding their customers have helped build their brand into the global icon that they are today.
Starbucks has been rather successful in focusing their customer’s attention on the quality of their experience rather than the price of their products. The company operates with strong attention to detail and focuses on ensuring that the customer experience is consistent across all of its stores.
Another major pillar in its brand philosophy is to be a responsible and ethical company. This pillar revolves around, ensuring that their purchasing practices are trustworthy as well as creating opportunities through education, training, and employment. They have also initiated many programs to help reduce its environmental footprint through energy and water conservation and recycling.
Branding is one of Starbucks’ strongest elements in their strategy. They have invested a lot to create a standardized look and feel for its stores, merchandise, and drinks. The Starbucks siren logo is one of the most recognizable logos in the entire world. The global expansion strategy has an objective or recreating the Starbucks experience in its stores no matter where on the globe.
The brand strategy focuses on the detail of the experience that takes place in every store. This idea has been a cornerstone of their philosophy and values since the very beginning. For its stores, Starbucks has always embraced stunningly appealing and unique designs. They have even created stores out of unused shipping containers. The interiors of the stores are continuously updated with artistically appealing materials, lighting arrangements, etc.
The company’s brand strategy has continued to evolve, and they have taken advantage of new customer engagement platforms. Starbucks owns a website called mystarbucksidea.com, where customers are invited to leave ideas for the company to expand and improve its products and customer experience. The brand also has a significant social media presence. This presence is driven by the need to better engage with its customers. Starbucks also wants to be visible on platforms where their target or future customers spend a lot of time on, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. The brand also invests a lot in mobile marketing. Starbucks developed a Starbucks app for paying for products, tipping baristas, as well as earning and redeeming rewards. The result was an increase in customer engagement, reflected by a 20% increase in Starbucks Rewards member spend.
Starbucks has shown a lot of growth over the last couple of decades, with no slow down in sight. They will undoubtedly continue to evolve and adapt to fit their changing customers’ needs over time. The success that Starbucks has had in the food and beverage industry is something to marvel over. The company’s brand philosophy and brand strategy are what sets them apart from the competition and it will forever be a key driver to their success.