Starbucks: a Strategic Change and Management Perspective

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Starbucks Coffee Company’s success in the coffee business echoed resoundingly across the globe. The company was able to attract many customers despite its overpriced coffee. The coffee-chain managed to draw the attention of investors as well, as they saw in the Starbucks a profitable investment. Starbucks is best known for its overpriced coffee and its excellent stores adorned with comfortable couches and wonderful music. Starbucks marketed itself as the “Third Place” – a place where people can go aside from home and the workplace.

The rapid growth of Starbucks has become a success story in the business world and many people are bewildered by the company’s business strategy. Who could have imagined a coffee outlet, selling overpriced coffee with fancy Italian names, can persuade people to buy its products, and can make these people happy? Why are financiers lured into investing in the company? Why do investors put their money in Starbucks stocks? What’s in Starbucks that made it very successful in the coffee business, selling its products at grossly high prices and yet been able to attract both the buyers and the investors?

For sure, the speedy success of Starbucks is a mystery in the industry of coffee business. Starbucks’ rivals were not able to match the rapid growth of the company. In a span of less than two decades, Starbucks was able to open tens of thousands of stores across the globe. The value of its shares in the stock market also increased rapidly, evidence of its attractiveness to investors.

However, the Starbucks “miracle” ceased to become a miracle. The fast-paced growth that the company experienced had gone to a sudden stop. Starbucks posted a [Surname] 6 50% decline in profit by the end of the 2008 fiscal year. The company’s stocks fell sharply to $9.44 at the end of 2008, from a high of $38.45 in mid-2007. Currently, the coffee store is undertaking a major organizational retransformation. The company’s chief executive officer, James Donald, was sacked and was replaced by its former CEO Howard Schultz.

The company’s business model seemed to have lost its magic. The sharp decline in all figures stated above makes it an interesting topic to be analysed. The company’s success, which took decades to be achieved, had ceased at such a fast rate. It took only a year to have the success story turn into a disaster. The company’s very own principle of aggressive expansionism seemed to be the reason for its decline. Its expansionism cannibalized the coffee chain’s luxurious nature. It lost its sense of exclusivity and high-end characteristics. The company has transformed into a mass marketer selling overpriced coffee to a diverse market segments, wealthy or not. It appears that the Starbucks outlets seem to have become like fast-food chains. The previous posh experience offered by Starbucks has now been challenged by the other food chains such as McDonald’s and Dunkin Donuts. Hence a significant portion of Starbucks’ customer base has been sliced and shifted to its competitors, who sell the same posh coffees at lower costs. The company’s SRI (socially responsible investments) funds seem to have not been delivering as well. The company has invested heavily in socially responsible activities such as environmental awareness campaigns, educational campaigns, acquisition of organic materials and donations to charitable and non-profit organizations. However, these investments appear to have not contributed to the company’s revenue [Surname] 7 and profit generations. The company seems to be losing money from these investments.

These circumstances make it interesting to study the Starbucks business model and how the company adopts to these situations. Business analysts are very much interested at the situation that Starbucks is in now. The company’s sharp decline is a cause of wonder since Starbucks has been previously seen as a formidable company. This makes...
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