Innovation key for Starbucks

29 April 2013
NEW YORK: Most of the innovation planned for the next few years by Starbucks, the coffee house chain, will be focused around new technology and achieving a "significant evolution" of its stores.

Howard Schultz, the firm's chief executive, told USA Today that the company was working on the store of the future. "It is not only linked to the physical but the digital experience," he said. "You'll know it's a Starbucks store, but you'll know that you'll be walking into a significant evolution."

The company has already embraced mobile payments, which are running at around 3m per week, a figure that Schultz claimed was more than the combined totals of the next ten companies closest to Starbucks.

This has opened the way to a "much deeper experience" with customers, based around one-to-one marketing.

As well as deals and promotions targeted at individuals based on their buying habits, Schultz foresaw a situation where people would not even have to order: a mobile phone app would identify them as being in a store and the information within the app would enable a barista to prepare their regular drink.

"We'll take customers on a journey," declared Schultz. "It will be very coffee-forward."

Another aspect of this journey will be more single varietal coffees on offer, which Schultz compared to "rare or cult wines".

There will also be an emphasis on health and wellness products. "You'll see it in many forms," said Schultz. "Starbucks has a licence to participate in this."

Discussing the brand's overall approach to innovation, Schultz offered the following: "If we were competing with Starbucks, what would we do?"

The brand's history, he said, was "based on extending the brand to categories within the guardrails of Starbucks", while taking care to "not abuse the trust people have by going off and doing things not consistent with the heritage of coffee."

Data sourced from USA Today; additional content by Warc staff
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