I’ll buy your Coffee


Who doesn’t know “Starbucks Coffee” , a prominent brand of specialty coffee in the world with tremendous popularity in Americas, Europe and at every other place where coffee drinkers are there.

Though more recently, the “Coffee giant” has been facing some branding problems. Howard Schulz, the CEO of Starbucks, wrote a memo to his employees expressing concern over the ‘watering down’ of the Starbucks brand. He feared that they were losing their uniqueness in what is soon becoming an oversaturated marketplace for coffee.

John Moore an ex marketer runs a crisp blog through which he called on customers to express their views on the fate of Starbucks and its future strategy. I was referred to a superbly compiled version of his findings on www.changethis.com (Thanks, Gaurav!) which got me thinking…so what would I do if I had to manage this new awakening for Starbucks. Contrary to common opinion, which is to go back to the old style of coffee brewing and revive the whole ‘we’re the coffee experts’ philosophy, my intuitive managerial gut feel is to redevelop the experiential brand value of Starbucks. Why? Because there’s only so much you can differentiate on the grounds of coffee, without making a fool of yourself. The next extension for all you know could be coffee spas. 

People love to visit the place because it’s a nice place to hang out—with friends or by oneself. Give them more of it then! People need space away from things and the world in general. Coffee is just a reason. So in the future that reason could be something else. Starbucks has a feel good factor to it. Can it create ‘happy moments’ for people? Make the world a better place—one person at a time. Now that’s a wonderful metric to keep track off and bet you that Barista can’t imitate that so easily. It’s about redefining the purpose of business in which coffee is a mere replaceable commodity.

Radical but true. The future of business (sustainable business) will be based on human value added. Even the economists say so! I had the opportunity to attend a talk on the economics of happiness by noted Economist Andrew Ostwald. Countries are now thinking about this seriously—how can they improve the quality of life of their people and thereby improve their happiness quotient.  

Brands need to incorporate an element of human value added. Not as part of some CSR re-awakening like M&S recently had. (I like their stores too, but please the 100 point agenda seems sooo… superfluous) I mean a true shaking up of consciousness.  What are you selling and WHY? (PS: Send the accountants on a tax break at this point!)

 Written by Chandni

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1 Comment

Filed under Branding, Service Marketing, Strategy

One response to “I’ll buy your Coffee

  1. Gaurav

    Nope, just CSR is not gonna change Starbucks and you know I am a big fan of sustainable business. How abt more ideas here. Also, I think improving the ‘pure’ coffee experience would help a lot rather than cluttering with the experience things which they have done too much already

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