If you’re talking about the perfect case of business evolution—yes, pun intended—then, there’s no better example than Starbucks. Starbucks’ success is not only apparent in the fact that it has become the biggest coffeehouse retailer in the world with more than 15,000 stores in 42 countries; but it has also managed to create its identity through the innovative development of its products, logo and store design.
Before Starbucks became a trendsetter in the coffeehouse industry, coffee was mostly seen in the hands of fathers before they leave for work. Its stimulating effect has labelled it a morning drink that awakens people’s senses. It’s also the chosen drink when professionals and college students burn the midnight oil. Now, what Starbucks has done is it broke away from this serious image of coffee, propagandizing it as a fun beverage that students can also enjoy.
Although it was Coffee Connection who first used frothed milk in coffee, when Starbucks bought it in 1994, it modernized the process by using whipped cream in its Frappuccino drinks. Starbucks then re-designed its menu by introducing coffee shakes topped with whipped cream and chocolate or caramel syrup, adding various flavors to make fun concoctions. These cold beverages appealed to the youth, and Starbucks effectively widened its target market.
Starbucks has made coffee a fun beverage that attracts teens and yuppies, while retaining its sobering qualities that are perfect for informal business meetings. How did this happen? When asked how Starbucks has sustained its success throughout its four decades of operations, CEO Howard Schultz said it’s through the company’s continuous reinvention of what defines Starbucks.
From canned energizing drinks and fresh fruit juices to baked goods and ice cream, Starbucks has continued to enrich its line of products—making the brand more relevant to various age groups. And this can be seen in how the company decided to drop “Starbucks Coffee” from its logo. It signals the company’s intention to penetrate different markets and target various age groups. And it’s definitely true that Starbucks’ siren is recognizable even without the text identifying it as such. So, when people think about coffee, Starbucks’ logo immediately comes to mind.
But what really sets Starbucks apart from other coffeehouses is that it not only offers refreshing beverages or scrumptious eats, but it also gives customers a unique experience through its stores’ diverse architecture and interior. Although stamped with the cozy and relaxing atmosphere Starbucks is known for, the company has invested in top architects and interior designers all over the world to capture and celebrate local culture.
In Mong Kok, it integrated Hong Kong’s local scene into the store design, using local artworks and movies to make customers feel more at home. In Amsterdam, where coffee shops are known for their more alternative and artistic interior, Starbucks gives coffee drinkers an unconventional yet cozy feel as it attempts to edge out the competition. Wherever a Starbucks café is built, it exemplifies what is best about the local culture, effectively becoming a trendsetter in architecture. Whether through its products, logo or architecture, Starbucks has created a unique experience that continues to revolutionize the café culture.