Why did we choose Starbucks as a brand?

[caption id="attachment_81970" align="alignnone" width=""]REUTERS/Andrew Winning[/caption]

Manuela Scognamiglio Manuela Scognamiglio

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.

Starbucks also aims to provide a wide range of options to their customers, from the traditional Italian espresso beverages, to regional dependent beverages and from iced to hot, as well as various drink add-ins. Their variety of drink options is intended to provide a desirable solution for everyone who enters one of their stores – even those who don’t drink coffee.

Another characteristic is that of environmental sustainability. As worldwide awareness of individual and company environmental impact has increased, Starbucks has strived to be environmentally friendly and increase sustainability. They have done this by creating environmentally friendly (LEED certified) store designs, reducing waste while increasing recycling, water and energy conservation initiatives, and supporting their farmers in reducing the impact on climate change.

Furthermore, Starbucks aims to have high-quality products. The company boasts high quality coffee beans, which improves the taste of their coffee as well. They support their farmers and increase quality by providing soil-testing services and free farming advice, as well as being “picky at harvest” and only selecting the very best coffee beans. This quality translates to their in-store presentation and public perception of products.

Starbucks has been able to combine its high quality with convenience. An individual can be in and out of a Starbucks, with a quality cup of “Joe” in their hand, in minutes.

Also, Starbucks likes its stores to be concentrated in busy city centers to the point that one can almost find a Starbucks on every corner. Because of Starbucks’ ability to produce quality coffee quickly and have a many store locations, it has created the perception of being a convenient option for a quick cup of coffee.

Additionally, Starbucks focuses strongly on hiring employees who are hard workers with positive attitudes. This has translated to great customer service, which is not location specific. At nearly every Starbucks, an individual will be greeted by a smiling employee who is eager to assist. Finally, the company has found great success by marketing itself as a welcoming place where individuals can relax. Starbucks paints itself as being a casual and open atmosphere where anyone can simply walk in, sit down, and take a deep breath. One can seem to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and relax in the down to earth café.   





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