As American as Apple Pie---Starbucks at 40
It’s the 40th anniversary of the incorporation of Starbucks…and in celebration of this seminal time, Starbucks has introduced the “Tribute” blend…which is incredibly bright, with nice bold overtones. I like it both hot and cold…In tribute to the 40th anniversary of Starbucks, this post is dedicated to them. Arguably, the Starbucks experience, which incorporates an appealing lexicon, pleasing physical lay-out, music-drenched ambiance, and access to world-class newspapers, embodies the highest ideals of bohemian culture. Yet, Starbucks is a well-run corporation, with CEO Howard Schultz, CEO, at the helm as a benevolent and savvy business icon. To its credit, Starbucks’ corporate governance has led to such widespread recognition that its good works are lauded throughout the business community.
The story of how Starbucks became “Starbucks” is legendary and interesting from both a cultural perspective and a business perspective. Howard Schultz became Marketing Director of Starbucks in 1982, when it was still a bean company. While meandering down a street in Milan during a break from a professional conference, he decided to stop for espresso at one of the more than 200,000 espresso bars in Italy. He was riveted by what he saw, heard, and felt. People were talking, laughing, reading, and otherwise productively engaged---and he himself found the atmosphere both relaxing and stimulating at the same time. The epiphany was immediate. His goal: To export this phenomenon back to the United States. In retrospect, that he succeeded is in some ways remarkable.
In the early 1980’s, the United States was not an obvious target for a nationwide coffee chain. There were a slew of negative reports about coffee and caffeine in particular being not only unhealthy, but associated with cancer and other diseases. The popular taste tended towards soft drinks and sugary juices, and there was no large-scale precedent---especially outside of large cities---for just hanging out, reading, and drinking coffee. But Schultz succeeded in taking the “mystery and romance” of the coffee experience and making it a tangible reality in the United States. One of the main marketing principles aimed at an aspiring middle class was the idea of acknowledging and elevating individuality by making individual espresso and coffee drinks specified to customers’ desires. Add to that the integration of Starbucks’ music, book, and film enterprises, all within the context of a comfortable, edifying atmosphere, and the appeal becomes readily apparent.
Day in and day out, we congregate at Starbucks--for business, for pleasure, for rest and stimulation; alone or with friends, partners, and children...these are the days of our lives. And where we spend them and how we spend them matters. That's why I choose coffee---every day!