Starbucks: A Global Experience

Essay by serif76University, Master'sA+, October 2007

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A heady aroma of coffee reached out and drew me in. I stepped inside and saw what looked like a temple for the worship of coffee…It was my Mecca. I had arrived.

- Howard Schultz (Helm 56.)When Schultz joined Starbucks in 1981, he realized that the company could provide more than gourmet coffee beans to consumers. After visiting a coffee bar in Italy, he saw the potential for selling more than a quality product. In his vision, he imagined the development of a strong, luxury brand which would rapidly expand. When talking about the Starbucks brand Schultz commented, "We're not just selling a cup of coffee, we're providing an experience" (Hill 705.) This premium brand would be created using three elements: attractive retail environments, responsive customer service and high-quality gourmet coffee.

In order to accomplish this dream, Starbucks appears to be pursuing an international strategy, taking products from their domestic market and selling them internationally with only minimum local customization.

Although they do not use a cookie cutter layout in each location, the drinks and gourmet coffees offered are the same from Seattle to Playa del Carmen to Beijing. Often it is pointed out that individual Starbucks carry different food, but its food sales make up only 3% of store sales. In addition, Starbucks R&D is located at its Seattle headquarters. There, employees are taught to taste the product as you would a fine wine and differentiate the coffees from different regions. Testing of new products is also performed by random employees within the company, despite the fact the product will be sold in other countries. The 13 weeks of training for baristas is also conducted at its Seattle headquarters, even for international stores.

Organizationally, power at Starbucks is very centralized beneath Chairman Howard Schultz who still drives the company...