Positioning Strategy for Starbucks in the Netherlands

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As exports and imports of goods and services both account for over 60% of nominal GDP, the life-blood of Dutch prosperity is foreign trade. Because of its internally-oriented characteristics, Netherlands has the embedded culture that welcomes diversified products or services from the world, while in some other countries in the EU, for instance, France or Italy, have ultimate pride for their own culture, especially for the product that I am planning to introduce—coffee. Being an everyday coffee-drinker, it is particularly interesting for me to analyze whether the coffee company that represents the U.S. will be successful when entering the Dutch market.

Economic Background
The openness of the Dutch economy is reflected in attracting foreign companies. Favorable tax treatment for profits earned by multinationals has boosted Netherlands’ attraction as a location for foreign direct investment (FDI). Moreover, international comparisons of the major economies have consistently ranked the Netherlands as one of the most attractive destinations for FDI. Investment initiatives have attracted a wide variety of foreign firms in recent years, including Polaroid, Fuji, Nissan, Amsco, and Rank Xerox…etc. With the openness and advancement of the Dutch economy, I believe Starbucks has strong incentives to enter the Dutch market.

Geographic / Demographic Background
Geographically, the Netherlands is the gateway to Europe, with a well-established and mature logistics infrastructure ideal for shipping and distributing products. Rotterdam is Europe’s largest port, handling twice as much as its nearest European rival, Antwerp. The port’s industrial and distribution activities generate annual added value to around 10% of Dutch GDP. Historically, the Dutch have a strong tradition of dealing in coffee; they have been supplying coffee to Europe for centuries, and introduced coffee to America in 1660.

With 484 inhabitants per sq km of land area (2007 data), Netherlands is one of the most densely populated countries in the world; 90% of Dutch population live in towns and cities. With the high population density in the Dutch land, it is likely to generate high sales in major cities once successfully penetrate the market.

Culture Background
In Netherlands, on a minimum average, a Dutch person consumes 4 cups of coffee in a day. Many of our company’s Dutch customers I know drink around 8 cups and more. The Dutchman drinks 6 cups including 1 cup after dinner at home. Coffee indeed is a staple item in the country. Tea still may be the beverage of choice at breakfast, but coffee is making inroads early in the morning. Coffee in mid-morning is a given and part of a Dutch tradition. Going for coffee and enjoying a pastry at a café restaurant also remains very popular, often as a well-deserved break from shopping or as a purely social event. Ordering coffee with a meal, such as at dinner time still is not part of Dutch ways, although having coffee after a meal is very common. The Dutch may rank fifth on the list of highest per capita coffee consumption in the world, but unlike Americans like coffee on-the-go, they drink it at home.

There is increased enthusiasm for coffee in the Netherlands, which can for the most part be attributed to the new way of making coffee. The Netherlands is the birthplace of the Senseo coffee pod machine and the Senseo coffee pods, which are a joint initiative from Sara Lee/DE and Philips. It is therefore not surprising that this particular system is very successful in the Netherlands. With the arrival of the Senseo machine, which requires coffee pods instead of filter coffee, Dutch’s traditional way of using regular filter machines has changed. The Dutch responded enthusiastically to the new way of making coffee and Philips and Sara Lee/DE achieved striking sales for Senseo machines and the accompanying coffee pods.

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