March 19, 2013

Starbucks - The Competitive Edge

A couple of weeks ago, I reviewed the non-fiction book Starbucked but noted there was more about Starbucks that I wanted to discuss.

As if we don't already know how crazy successful Starbucks is, this book just highlighted the phenomenon even more for me and really made me think about what a well-run business it is.

Let's face it - you can't get away from the ever-evolving 'Green Mermaid'.
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Sometimes you can literally find them on every corner. In my old work area, I had five shops within a 5 minute walking distance, or less. Crazy. No other establishment of any kind has, or can afford to have, that many stores in such close proximity to one another.

But convenience is necessarily why Starbucks is successful. If you hated the product (or even the brand), you wouldn't care how many locations they have. You would go to any competitor, chain or not, but you don't. You go to Starbucks and here's why...


• Consistent Quality •
Besides one or two unsatisfying experiences (not coincidentally at the same store) my latte tastes the same regardless of which store I get it at. You know what you want and you know that no matter how complicated of an order you put in, it will be exactly what you expect 99.9% of the time. Those are great odds. That's why you pay $5 for them.

• Customer Service/Experience •
Customer service is on every retailer's mind these days but few live up to it. "Can I get a name for your cup? Ok, is that one L or two?" Puh-leeze. The doctor's office doesn't even ask me how to spell my name & they have to prescribe me drugs. Just wait until you become BFFs with your regular barista. 

• Customer Rewards •
I know that rewards are another way to get you to spend more, but if I'm already going to spend that much on a coffee I'm going to spend it where I get a gold star. With minimal effort from the customer - simply registering a Starbucks gift card - you collect stars, earn Gold status & rake in the perks. It doesn't get better than this...
Coincidentally in time for this post, today I noticed that I had two special rewards on my Gold card. It pays to be Gold! 
• Ambiance •
In the past few years, there's been increasing focus on the 'convenience' of Starbucks as a stop-and-go coffee shop so many have forgotten they started off as a sit-down coffee shop. Their atmosphere is still just as amazing so whenever I get the chance I like to meet up with a friend or just chill & do a crossword to soak it in. The coziness really cannot be beat by any other coffee house I've been to.

• The Foam •

I love foam. It is the reason I spend double on a latte over a regular cup of coffee, so do me a favour and get it right!. It's actually the foam that appears to be the most difficult for competitors to replicate. Shocking, because I've been able to replicate it with the steamer of my espresso machine at home.
So yeah, just don't fuck up my foam, ok?

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