Starbucks, Back to Beans

Last month there was a lot of commentary surrounding Starbucks’ 3-hour nationwide closing of their stores, for a “retraining” and a refocusing on “customer experience.” This was prompted after sales at Starbucks had dropped to an all-time low. Chairman Howard Schultz even took the reigns back as CEO, in an effort to get the company back on track.

My observation is that Starbucks was praised for their rededication to the high-quality coffee, in both the press and blogs by a margin of at least 8 to 1. I even threw in my take on the matter with The Coffee Experience.

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Today, USA Today released an interview with Schultz in which he addressed questions and concerns from expert consultants. I recommend reading the whole article if you have the time. It’s a great read that takes an in-depth look at some of the things Starbucks is facing as they seek to reinforce the Starbucks brand, while seeking innovation that will keep the brand relevant in the future.

One of the topics of interest, was “cutting the clutter,” which takes a jab at Starbucks lack of focus, which I addressed head on in my recent writings about the coffee chain. In response to restaurant consultant, Malcolm Knapp’s, concerns that, customers don’t know if they’re in a “coffee shop or variety store”, Schultz had this to say, stores will have “fewer things” that are “more focused on elevating the coffee experience at home.” Schultz also said they will, “spill out more coffee than most coffee shops sell,” and “You won’t be able to find a fresher cup of coffee on the planet.”

The biggest take away for me is that while Starbucks needs to restore their focus on coffee, at the same time they must seek innovation. To use the key phrase from Good to Great, “Preserve the Core, Stimulate Progress.” Schultz realizes this and states that, “this is the beginning of transforming the Starbucks experience”, words that leaves a coffee junky like myself, full of excitement and drooling over things to come.