Starbucks has opened a low-profile coffeehouse in Seattle that has shed the typical Starbucks look & feel and called it 15th Ave E Coffee and Tea...Inspired by STARBUCKS. These new coffeehouses are to feel more local & rustic, losing the global styling of the Starbucks we know so well. These shops may even sell wine or beer and host live music & poetry readings focusing heavily on the coffeehouse experience.
Some may feel this is a bad move by Starbucks as it's deceiving the public by going 'stealth', or that they are avoiding the real issues of people not willing to pay $4-$5 on a cup of coffee at the global stores. But I think this is a great move by Starbucks for a few reasons:
- ...Inspired by STARBUCKS is allowing the organization to explore ways to improve the current Starbucks stores without disrupting the global brand, which would cost more in the long run. In addition, Starbucks is being really upfront about its association with the new shops as it's leveraging the Starbucks name in the new name.
- These new coffeehouses are a way for Starbucks to penetrate a consumer group that desires a more down-to-earth coffee shop experience without alienating its current core consumer group who yearn for their grande non-fat lattes on the way to work.
- If Starbucks was to lower its prices forcing it to directly compete with McDonalds, it would lose some of its brand cache causing long-term damage to the brand. So with the new ...Inspired by STARBUCKS concept the organization can focus on what it does best - creating a coffee experience. At Starbucks, you are not paying for just coffee, you are paying for a sense of belonging to a special coffee club and the experience when you walk into a store and place your unique order - Starbucks must not jeopardize this!
- Lastly, and most importantly, Starbucks is embracing a new way to achieve its brand purpose. Hayes Roth, a vice president of marketing at Landor Associates, a consultancy that has advised Starbucks on branding strategy, once said, "...the essence of Starbucks is not about the coffee, although it's great coffee. It's about the coffee-drinking and the coffeehouse experience." This goes back to my post on innovating with your brand purpose in mind - the brand purpose never changes, as it's the reason the organization exists, but how you strive towards your purpose will vary as the market & consumers change - Starbucks is simply adapting, but with its purpose in mind!
I would love to hear some of your thoughts on the new ...Inspired by STARBUCKS undertaking
Note: Inspiration and images came from Fast Company article, How Do You Disguise A Starbucks Store?