Why did we choose Starbucks as a brand?

REUTERS/Andrew Winning

Starbucks is an American coffee company and coffeehouse chain. It is considered the main representation of “second wave coffee”, initially distinguishing itself from other coffee-serving venues in the US by taste, quality, and customer experience while popularizing darkly roasted coffee. Starbucks locations serve hot and cold drinks, whole-bean coffee, espresso, caffe latte, full- and loose-leaf teas, fresh juices, frappuccino beverages, and snacks including items such as chips and crackers. Some offerings are seasonal or specific to the locality of the store. Many stores sell pre-packaged food items, hot and cold sandwiches, and drinkware including mugs and tumblers, and more.

In February 2016, Starbucks announced that it will enter Italy (probably in collaboration with Princi, the famous Italian bakery and café). The first location will open in Milan in 2017 and the interesting question is – can it work? A coffee in Italy is always an espresso. A cappuccino is seen as something completely different – a breakfast drink no “normal person” would want after about 11am. But there is almost as much variety in the Italian espresso as in the Starbucks range of coffee-based drinks. There are many variations you can have on a simple coffee. You can have it macchiato – stained with milk, corretto – with a dash of grappa, lungo – with a bit more liquid in the cup, or ristretto – super-concentrated. Interestingly, in Italian you do not “drink” coffee, you “take” it – like a dose of medicine – perhaps because it is so small. Italians most often have it standing at the bar rather than sitting at a table (where it may cost two or three times as much). If wine is the national drink, coffee punctuates the day – the mid-morning comma, the full-stop at the end of a meal.

We decided to go with the Starbucks case when Starbucks’ CEO, Howard Schultz, came to Bocconi last week, and we found his speech very interesting. He pointed out that they do not want to impose their mentality on the Italian people. They want to adjust their offer to the needs and preferences of the Italian customers and we thought it would be interesting to analyze the marketing plan of the brand.

The objective in this project is to find out what the actual GAPS are (and their solutions) between what Starbucks usually offers and what Italian customers want. These are the areas where Starbucks should act to satisfy the Italian demand and be successful. We conducted a number of interviews on people living in Italy to see their preferences and learn about their personal opinions for the marketing analysis.

What are Starbucks’ desired associations?


After deep analysis of Starbucks’ marketing plan, website, CEO’s presentation, and overall company culture we concluded that Starbucks has focused its efforts to achieve certain company characteristics. These include working space culture, wide range of drink options, environmental sustainability, quality, convenience, customer service, and relaxing and welcoming atmosphere.

Starbucks has created a reputation of being a positive environment where students, corporate individuals, and even the everyday creative writer can come and develop their ideas. Nearly every Starbucks has someone contently typing way on his laptop. Starbucks has marketed itself as a place where productive individuals can escape the loud distracting world and complete whatever project they may be committed to.

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