Managing a High Growth Brand
One of the main keys for success for Starbucks in building the brand is their focus on quality, starting by the quality of the whole bean, the freshly roasted gourmet beans, its packaging, transportation, until its brewing. This has served as a main differentiator between Starbucks and other brands. Starbucks has succeeded to position itself as a unique quality coffee provider.
Starbucks also managed to build its brand with the perception of a “complete customer experience” by creating a look in their stores that emphasized on comfort in terms of design, colors, furniture, music and even service. The introduction of the coffee shop concept made it a “personal treat” for the customers and a “Third Place” after home and office. In addition to diversifying their offering to include brewing machines for the customer to get the same quality coffee brewed in its shops.
Partnerships has also contributed to building Starbucks brand, those partnerships with reputable corporations like United Airlines, Pepsi, Kraft, Dryer’s and Capitol Record helped Starbucks to create a positive brand image in the market as it successfully managed to utilize the brand name of these well-known companies for promoting for itself as a brand. Those partnerships showed how Starbucks also cares for innovation by offering new products that would grab different customers’ attention.
Starbucks had all the keys for success in building the brand, and one of the main key factors for this success is preserving its core brand values. Core values are the essence of any brand building and thus increasing customer trust and credibility. Starbucks aimed at investing in both employees and customers. Having a very strong team that feel like owners, with the appropriate training and understanding to the business will surely contribute to the overall customer satisfaction. Starbucks ensured flexibility while dealing with client’s demands, focusing more on people ensured building a brand with more loyal customers and reach high level of awareness through word-of-mouth publicity.
I believe that all the previous aspects have contributed vigorously as sources for Starbucks brand equity. It started when Shultz thought that he could preserve Starbucks’ core value while exposing a wider range of people to the brand. And it was true, making Starbucks a whole customer experience, creating the coffee bars idea with the most suitable atmosphere and collaborating with big brand names has increased Starbucks brand equity, differentiated it from its competitors and thus was the first step on the way of its global growth.
Starbuck’s growth strategy is interesting was a very bold one. Starbucks hit new locations in no time, every resident at the USA will find between every two Starbucks stores another Starbucks. This growth strategy has worked very well at the beginning to build strong brand presence and awareness, to increase sales and deviate competitors. I believe that their growth strategy was very successful on the short run; however it proved as unsuccessful on the long run since rapid expansion of cafes could dilute the Starbucks experience.
Starbucks has announced the closing of 600 stores in February 2007, a leaked internal memo written by founder Howard Schultz showed that he recognized the problem that his own growth strategy had created: "Stores no longer have the soul of the past and reflect a chain of stores vs. the warm feeling of a neighborhood store." Starbucks is a mass brand attempting to command a premium price for an experience that is no longer special.
If I would do things differently, I would look closer at my expansion and growth plans and would focus more on maintaining the coffee freshness quality and the stores atmosphere on which I build my brand upon. Maintaining those two pillar aspects will help me sustain positioning Starbucks as the premium coffee with the premium...
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