In his memo to his senior team, Howard Schultz wrote about his visions of Starbucks and his disappointment over what he called the “commoditization of the Starbucks experience. ” He gave a detailed list of the decisions that has contributed to this fate. His visions are clear and the arguments he presented are impeccable but this paper will look at the situation from a different viewpoint. The question is should they stick with the changes or revert to the old ways and preserve tradition? Going Big Howard Schultz mentioned several decisions that that led to the “watering down” of the Starbucks experience.
These are: • Changing La Marzocca machines with automatic espresso machines. • Shifting from fresh coffee to fresh roasted bagged coffee. • Transforming store design. While he believes these changes resulted to the “commoditization” of Starbucks, he admitted that these were necessary and instrumental in bringing Starbucks from 1000 to more than 13,000 stores (Schultz, 2007). These changes allowed Starbucks to speed up their services, become more efficient, cost-effective and competitive. Starbucks Soul Everything has its own price.
Starbucks achieved their business goals but lost sight of their vision along the way. For Howard Schultz, losing their “soul” for profit was a high price to pay. In his memo, he mentioned that shifting from La Marzocca to automatic espresso machines removed the “romance and theater” of the process. The height of the machines blocked the view and took away the intimacy of the experience. Shifting to roasted coffee took out the aroma and stripped the store of its tradition and heritage. Lastly, changing store design eliminated the “warm feeling of a neighborhood store” (Schultz, 2007).
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Reinventing the Experience Soul, experience, romance, theater, temple- these are some of the words Howard Schultz associated with Starbucks. Reading his memo gives everyone a glimpse of his vision for Starbucks. It shows how passionate he is about his product and his store. It details the experience he envisions customers would feel in going to his stores. To him, it is not just selling coffee, it’s an experience. It is not just a store, it’s a temple. It is not just good customer service, it is romance. For someone who found his “Mecca” in Starbucks, those things mean a great deal.
However, Schultz has to consider the possibility that not all people share that vision. A lot of people love to drink coffee but that does not mean they are as passionate about the experience as he is. Some customers are not as in love with the tradition and legacy as he is. There is nothing wrong about Howard Schultz’s vision and we can not blame him for being alarmed by the changes that happened in his stores. However, Starbucks have to be open to the fact that there might be a big difference between people who hang out in coffee shops in 1981 to the millions of Starbucks patrons around the world today.
They have to realize that it is not just a simple case of profit versus soul or efficiency versus tradition. They have to consider what kind of “experience” people are hoping to get from their stores and work from their. Starbucks are founded by solid visions but that can only take them so far. In the end it is what the customers think that matters. Conclusion Howard Schultz is not just a businessman, he is a visionary. For him, profit is not enough, he want to preserve the tradition and leave a legacy. However, he has to accept the fact that to some people, coffee is just an ordinary drink, a commodity that does not need to be romanticized.
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