Starbucks Case Study

There are plenty of people who say that in tough economic times, a brand like Starbucks shouldn’t be as successful as it continues to be, but reality tells a different story. Year in and year out, Starbucks continues to expand and diversify its offerings to new markets around the world, while still maintaining a firm grip on its domestic dominance in the United States. If there was only one or two pillars of Starbucks’ success, than cracks would almost certainly begin to appear, and the era of luxury coffee might show signs of coming to an end, but that isn’t the situation. By investing time, energy, and resources to perfecting their business model on all sides, Starbucks has weathered countless economic storms and cultural trends that have drowned competitors in myriad industries.

It’s difficult to envision Starbucks as a company that operates under the “slowly, but surely” philosophy, but that is precisely how they’ve achieved such monumental success. The company doesn’t implement new business ideas until they are polished and perfected, nor do they cut corners to save on expenses and improve their bottom line. The company takes calculated risks and solidifies its position in every new market, ensuring that previous ventures are secure and successful before moving onto the “next big thing”. All of this progress is dependent on their outstanding employees and baristas, who are consistently praised as some of the most superbly trained and empowered workers in the retail industry. Combining that personal presence with unique marketing strategies and an increasingly global presence results in a solid and unwavering level of success in an extremely competitive industry.

Shifting a consumer product from a novelty to a necessity is every retail establishment’s dream, yet Starbucks has actually achieved it. They’ve created and maintained a loyal customer base that spans more than 60 countries, and they’ve achieved this by remaining consistent in their underlying vision, while displaying dynamism in their individual practices. For a massive international company, they are surprisingly flexible and adaptive, owing to their empowered and independent retail locations that can make their own decisions and implement their own strategies based on their individual marketing experiences and innovative ideas. While this business model isn’t possible for certain industries or companies, the fundamental ideas that drive Starbucks are universal: investing in employees, unique marketing techniques, intelligent globalization, and customizing your offerings to your target markets, among others.

Every company is different, and every road to success has its own unexpected pitfalls and obstacles, but if one thing can be learned from Starbucks four decades of success, it is this: if a company establishes a feasible goal, delivers what it promises, takes calculated risks, and refuses to compromise on quality, then it will inevitably succeed. If this sounds condescendingly simple, that’s because it is. Sometimes the simplest mantra is the one that will result in the best outcome. The most powerful corporations have to start somewhere, even if that now-legendary company began with little more than a dream and a handful of coffee beans.

(This in an excerpt from the book More Than Coffee: The Secrets of Starbucks Success)