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Starbucks, the evil corporation? April 4, 2007

Posted by Charley S in advertising, Marketing.
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http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/07_15/b4029070.htm?chan=innovation_branding_branding

So what kind of company image does Starbucks conjure up?  Well, a lot of people would say that it is completely obsessed with profits, has lost touch with its original customer base, and is basically a big, evil, bloodsucking corporation.  I mean there exist places where Starbucks has locations directly across the street from each other.  When you go to their stores you can buy practically anything there, from newspapers to music and high priced espresso machines.  Oh, and don’t forget the coffee which is incredibly overpriced.  It seems that as a result of image problems their growth has topped out over recent years, with their stock price dipping 25% in the past years.  Basically, they are at the stage where if they are going to continue to grow they are going to have to do something drastic.  The CEO apparently thinks that this is more than possible and even predicts tripling revenue over the next decade.  Right now they are in the process of introducing some new drinks that will apparently try to get back to the original small coffee house feel.  This article talks about the process by which Starbucks produces a new drink, which actually takes quite a lot of time and investment.  Starbucks is also trying to add more premium coffee that it sells as beans in the stores.  Will this type of change be enough for Starbucks to continue to grow?

I believe that just introducing new flavors is not the way that Starbucks is going to continue to grow in the long-term.  This strategy will add temporary novelty to the product but does not address the underlying problem that Starbucks is losing its small coffee shop atmosphere.  To address these problems I think that Starbucks needs to reach out to consumers and offer a close in coffee experience.  Starbucks knows a lot about coffee, and it could utilize this knowledge by trying to help educate the general public on the finer art of making coffee.  Other companies have started mail order cofee clubs which have been extremely successful in informing consumers on new products and is an easy way for coffee adicts to get their morning fix of coffee.

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Comments»

1. Abby - April 8, 2007

Starbucks really is everywhere (Apparently coming soon to Lewisburg, PA!) While I enjoy their coffee, drinks, etc, I will admit that they’re control in the industry is unbelievable.
Starbucks has become uber-trendy, and uses consumer-driven marketing. I haven’t ever seen a Starbucks commercial on TV, with an exception to the ‘shot’. They are predominantly advertised with their celebrity customer photos in magazines and online. They’ve become the fashionable coffee with their high-price drinks and snacks. But then, one could argue it’s the brand and quality they’re paying for.

Favorite Drink: Gingerbread Latte – only available around Christmas!

2. "Robert" - July 23, 2008

As a two year Starbuck’s Employee, I am glad to be leaving the company. Baristas are overworked and do not get paid enough for what we have to do. They say that they want to stay true to a small coffee shop atmosphere, however the corporate dress, matching aprons, and almost everything that would allow a person to show any type of expression is viewed as against Starbucks Policy. I have seen small coffee shops go under because a Starbucks had opened a block away. Their “Just Say Yes” policy has created a group of greedy, maniacal, bitchy people. We have to give in to their demands. And again how several weeks ago they said that they wanted to stay away from a fastfood chain, what do they do? Introduce fruit smoothies like a fast food chain.

The company reminds me of the Conquistadors who as they ventured into the New World proclaimed their mission for God, Glory, and Gold. God being the ever so precious customer, Glory being proclaimed as the #1 coffee chain, and Gold…. self-explanatory. When in reality the Conquistadors pillaged the landscape all for the sake of Gold and Glory…oh and God.

The new drinks that they have just released the Vivanno fruit drinks, yes are satisfying and are somewhat healthy for you. We are actually being watched by our DM’s to make sure we are selling them to make a profit. If a store does not meet these goals there are consequences, managers have been working on their days off to make sure that profits are made. Employees are worked sometimes to the breaking point. In my opinion, they are just about as evil as McDonald’s was when Morgan Spurlocks film “Supersize Me,” debuted.

3. Jordi - July 24, 2008

Robert, thank you for sharing your insights. I live in a small town with four owner-operated coffee shops and not a starbucks or any other chain.

You write well. Start your own blog!

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