Despite being one of the biggest success stories in business since they opened their first store in Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market in 1971, Starbucks has refused to rest on its laurels and has always sought out new ways to innovate and attract customers. Starbucks has grown from a small seller of premium coffee beans into the premier coffee shop around the world by predicting consumer demand and acting accordingly. From popular seasonal offerings like pumpkin-spiced lattes to customer loyalty programs promising free coffee, Starbucks has cultivated a loyal following that refuses to switch brands.
Recently, Starbucks has been looking for more unique ways to stay ahead of the competition, expanding beyond exciting flavors and new drinks and looking to change the coffee shop experience. At the end of 2014, they partnered with Telecom giant AT&T to install wireless charging stations in some 200 stores, allowing customers a convenient way to charge their phones while they drink their coffee. By offering this as a free service, Starbucks is showing that it is always looking for ways to enhance the customer experience, and it gives customers a reason to sit inside and drink their coffee rather than taking it to go. On the other side of the coin, Starbucks also gets to form a partnership with a big player in another industry, and when two powerful companies such as Starbucks and AT&T combine their talents they can make great things happen.
Starbucks has also looked into expanding its brand beyond just coffee. While it will always be a coffee shop first, the company must look into other markets in order to sustain growth. That is what prompted the idea of a lunch and dinner menu, featuring new meal options as well as beer and wine. With many people seeing Starbucks as more of an option for a morning coffee, they needed some new ideas to bring people back later in the day, and the acquisition of California-based cafe chain La Boulange gave them the opportunity to expand their food offerings. While this may seem like a bold departure from the premium coffee they are best known for, it shows that Starbucks is listening to what customers want and using the strength of their brand and their experience in the industry to create a new way to reach their customer base.
Finally, lest people think Starbucks doesn’t do coffee anymore, they have also opened a flagship Starbucks Reserve store in Seattle. By reading customer trends, Starbucks noticed that many people were opting to go to boutique coffee shops that sold coffee made from rare, high quality beans from all over the world. The Starbucks Reserve Roaster and Tasting Room, as it is formally known, is still all about the coffee, but it adds an element of showmanship and intrigue by letting you see exactly how the coffee is made, and giving you an opportunity to sample some coffee that you otherwise wouldn’t be able to find. As much about the experience as the coffee, it is taking a page from the craft brewing industry and the wine industry, and educating people on the product and the process as well as serving great coffee.
Learning Evolution has partnered with Starbucks to provide them with our top-of-the-line Category Management training, helping their staff to develop the skills necessary to be able to read these consumer trends and see where their sales are coming from, who is buying their products, and what they are buying. Starbucks has shown a penchant for innovation during their four decade rise to becoming the biggest coffee powerhouse in the world, and Learning Evolution is honored to be partnered with a company that shares this spirit of always moving forward and being on the forefront of progress.