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STARBUCKS
Entering the Netherlands

Starbucks,
Entering the Netherlands

Student: Bart Verhulst
Student number: 20024409

Supervisor: Mr. Kandou
Date:

”The Hague School of European Studies”

Haagse Hogeschool, Den Haag

Executive summary

In this thesis, the luxury coffee company Starbucks has been well described, although many aspects of the company have been left out of consideration in order to keep it relevant and clear. However, while Starbucks has not entered the Netherlands yet, there is much more for the Dutch to learn about the company. Many Dutch people are interested in the cause of the company’s absence in their country. Especially the fact that the Netherlands is a country with a tremendous coffee culture and the earlier opening of a Starbucks coffee roasting plant in Amsterdam has brought more question marks to it. There seems to be enough foothold for the company at first sight, given the fact that Starbucks already has many supporters in the Netherlands, proven by, for example, the online petition set up by a Starbucks fan to bring Starbucks to the Netherlands, which thousands of people signed. Obviously, there is a demand for Starbucks in the Netherlands, which is to be expected from a rich, internationally focused and highly developed country like the Netherlands. Now the question rises: why has Starbucks not yet entered the Dutch market? All this has been an inspiration for this thesis and eventually brought forward the following research question: ”Is the Dutch coffee market ready for Starbucks stores and with which instruments can Starbucks grow in the Dutch market?” In order to answer this question, the company is shortly introduced and analysed with the help of the SWOT-theory. The strengths (like its world famous brand and its effective marketing strategy) against the weaknesses (like its “McDonald’s”-image and its relatively high prices) give insight in the internal environment of Starbucks. Looking at the company’s external environment, one finds opportunities like the high level of the economy of the Netherlands and the international focus of the Dutch. Threats like successful and ambitious competitors and Starbucks’ lack of experience in the Dutch market are important facts to consider. These factors are of influence to Starbucks’ possible strategy to enter the Dutch market. Starbucks’ current entry strategy of just opening stores “where many people are” while, in many cases, keeping them company owned will not be enough to be successful in the Netherlands. In general, the Dutch, with their rich coffee history, are critics concerning their coffee and they like drinking their quality coffee in a cosy environment. People who travel often or work in an international environment already now Starbucks coffee and can appreciate its worldwide image. Others are probably not willing to pay for a relatively expensive cup of coffee in a McDonald’s concept, different from the authentic coffee shop “around the corner”.

Concluding my findings in this thesis I would answer the research question as follows: The Dutch coffee market is indeed ready for Starbucks stores and the company will have a good chance of success if it can partially adapt to the Dutch coffee culture. The company will surely attract many customers at large (tourist) city centres like Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, Utrecht and transportation hubs like Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam Central Station and Utrecht Central Station. These places have an international character and boasts of people who are open to innovative products in a trendy environment and are willing to pay extra for it. The company’s lack of experience in the Netherlands should be compensated by the cooperation with established organisations via joint venture-constructions. Starbucks should not try, in any case, to aggressively compete with the common and typical Dutch coffee shops, because the authentic Dutch coffee culture will always maintain its...
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