Starbucks taking a page out of Apple’s location playbook

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

About five years ago, I was on one of those double-decker bus tour of NYC with my kids. We passed by where John Lennon was shot, and about 5 people stood up and took a photo. Then, we passed by Apple’s 5th Avenue store and the entire bus stood up and took a photo. Over the last decade, Apple has created iconic stores around the world that have become a tourist draw. Now, Starbucks is stealing a page from that playbook.

The world’s largest Starbucks will open on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile on November 15th this year, and will overtake the recently opened Toyko Reserve Roastery as Starbucks’ biggest store and is the sixth Roastery in the world, following locations in Seattle, Shanghai, New York City, Milan, and Tokyo. These locations will make the Starbucks brand fans swoon, get out their phones and post all over social media. This will make those Starbucks fans book a trip to Chicago.  

New Starbucks in Chicago

It will be four floors, 43,000 square feet and employs over 200 people. There will be exclusive drinks “inspired by the culture and traditions of Chicago,” too. These Starbucks stores keep getting bigger, with Tokyo at 32,000 square feet, Shanghai at 30,000 and New York City at a very congested 23,000 square feet.


Take a look inside Starbucks Shanghai location

Starbucks roastery in New York City has best described as a Willy Wonka coffee factory

Video of the Shanghai roastery location

Delivering on the Starbucks experience led brand

When the consumer experience is your brand’s lead strength, the strategy and organization should focus on creating a link between your culture and your brand. Your people are your product. Use your brand purpose (“Why you do what you do”) and brand values to inspire and guide the service behaviors of your people. Then build a culture and organization with the right people who can deliver incredible experiences. 

Experience-led brands need to be patient with how fast they build the brand, as the quick mass media approach might not be as fast or efficient as the product-led or idea-led brands. The most effective communication tools for consumer experience-led brands include word of mouth, earned media, social media, online consumer reviews, the voice of key influencers, and consumer testimonials. These brands can make a mistake if they put too much emphasis on price, which can diminish the perceived consumer experience. 

The five elements of strategic thinking allows Starbucks to build an amazing consumer experience

1. Set a vision of what you want

Starbucks wished to become a cherished favorite moment of the day. The question for Starbucks was how to build smartly around the consumer experience to drive significant growth in same-store sales.

2. Invest resources in a strategic program

Starbucks has an strong bond with their consumers, by creating an amazing consumer experience supported by a phenomenal team of employees. Starbucks wanted to bring this culture to the forefront of the consumer experience. These new Starbucks stores will bring this experience to a new level, rewarding the most ardent brand fans around the world. 

3. Focus on an identified opportunity

In 2008, Starbucks refocused to shift the coffee ritual beyond mornings. It wanted to build an all-day gathering place. The company broadened their portfolio around coffee by adding desserts, snacks, and sandwiches. Starbucks saw an opportunity in its under-utilized retail locations, which remained relatively empty after 11 a.m. The company wanted the broader portfolio to boost lunch and dinner sales, and earn a higher share of the consumer’s wallet and higher same-store sales. Watching what Apple has done on locations, Starbucks wants to create a heightened experience that consumers will share with their network of friends. 

4. Leverage a breakthrough market impact

Back in 2008, Starbucks closed every store for a day to refocus on its service, then built a broader portfolio around coffee. The company successfully reconnected with most loyal Starbucks fans. It was able to turn the morning coffee routine into an all-day life ritual, allowing Starbucks to focus on becoming a consumer experience brand, and a gathering place to savor moments with friends and colleagues. With six Starbucks Reserve Roastery locations, each bigger than the other, they are creating a gathering location for the world’s biggest brand fans. Starbucks is clearly focused on growth in Asia, building a new location every 19 hours. This Shanghai location will certainly be a draw for every tourist coming to the city. Put it on your list. 

5. Performance result that pays back

No longer seen as a destination just for morning coffee, but rather an escape at any point in the day, Starbucks saw double-digit growth for five straight years. Meanwhile, the stock price increased 10-fold over that period, even double what it was a year ago. Early results from these locations show that same day sales are equal to what a normal Starbucks does in a week. 

We have a Starbucks case study in our Beloved Brands book

Have a look at our Beloved Brands book

Learn how to think, define, plan, execute and analyze

  • You will find strategic thinking models and examples for each of the four strategic thinking methods, looking at core strength, competitive, consumer, and situational strategies. 
  • To define the brand, I will provide a tool for writing a brand positioning statement as well as a consumer profile and a consumer benefits ladder. I have created lists of potential functional and emotional benefits to kickstart your thinking on brand positioning. We explore the step-by-step process to come up with your brand idea and bring it all together with a tool for writing the ideal brand concept. 
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  • To grow your brand, I show how to make smart decisions on marketing execution around creative advertising and media choices. When it comes time for the analytics, 
  • I provide all the analytical tools you need to write a deep-dive business review, looking at the marketplace, consumer, channels, competitors and the brand. Write everything so that it is easy to follow and implement for your brand.

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