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Where Next for Starbucks?

Zeitgeist first remembers popping into a Starbucks way back in March of 1999, in the wintery plains of Canada. Back then it was seen as quite an exciting prospect – especially for a Briton – to have the chance to sample a Starbucks coffee. How times change. Now they are everywhere, and the homogeneity and abundance has become such that they have taken to individualising some stores, first in New York in the summer of 2009, and more recently at the store that sits near Harrods in London’s Knightsbridge area.

As we noted not long ago, Starbucks recently underwent changes on a more macro level, altering its logo by removing the word “coffee” from it. The Starbucks promise is about “more than just coffee”. This means it’s about the atmosphere, the service, the experience. But it also means that the brand has free rein to evolve, to move into offering other services. Recently, the well-respected design agency Wolff Olins featured an article on their blog reporting on Tesco’s newest venture: getting into the world of second-hand cars. The short article astutely points out that brands are “defined less by what they do, and more by what they believe”, so it’s not unreasonable to think that Tesco could move into such an area, despite being known mostly for their grocery offering.

It’s entirely the same situation with Starbucks. Their brand is so strong (note ‘strong’, not ‘loved’ – Starbucks, like Tesco, is far from universally adored) that it can now make lateral bounds into whole other areas of industry if it wants to. And while the above ad that Zeitgeist just watched in the cinema may be about coffee, what’s it’s also showing is how the brand makes the customer happy. There’s a lot of room for manoeuvre there. Watch this space…

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