Starbucks turns 50: How the brand became synonymous with coffee

From starting off as coffee bean sellers to becoming a global phenomenon with a $100 billon net worth, Starbucks is celebrating 50 golden years of giving people the best coffee experience.

Starbucks? Does that name ring a bell? Of course, it does. With over 30,000 stores in and around 78 countries, and $100 billion and over net worth, it is one of the fastest-growing companies in the world.

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So how did the company become synonymous with coffee? On the 50th anniversary of Starbucks that also happens to be National Coffee Day, we’re talking about our favorite coffee bar and how it showed such phenomenal growth. And most importantly, what can we learn from it?

Yes, we all don’t have multi-million-dollar budgets for marketing, which makes us think that replicating Starbucks at the same level is impossible. However, the core principles behind Starbucks are something that anyone can borrow and implement. Before all that, here’s a peek into their good old days.

The first stir

Starbucks was founded by two teachers and a writer. Though the man most associated with Starbucks is chairman and CEO Howard Schultz, he has been with the company only since the 80s. it was actually started by three dudes, Gordon Bowker (a writer), Zev Siegl (a history teacher) and Jerry Baldwin (an English teacher).

They started off wanting to bring the best coffee to Seattle. Back then they only sold beans at first, but that was going to change once Schultz stepped in.

Ѕtаrbuсkѕ’ fіrѕt coffee ѕtоrе wаѕ іn Ѕеаttlе frоm 1971 tо 1976. Тhеn іt was moved to 1912 Ріkе Рlaсе. Іt wаѕ а tіmе whеrе thе соmраnу оnlу ѕоld rоаѕtеd whоlе соffее bеаnѕ. Тhеу hаd nоt ѕtаrtеd tо ѕеll brеw соffее thеn.

Ву 1986, thеу eхраnded thеіr ѕtоrеѕ tо ѕіх іn Ѕеаttlе іtѕеlf. Тоdау, Ѕtаrbuсkѕ іѕn’t lіmіtеd tо just соffее. They hаvе dіvеrѕіfіеd tо tеа, ісе сrеаmѕ, расkаgеd gооdѕ and more — еѕtаblіѕhing а mіllіоn-dоllаr еmріrе.

Schultz comes from humble beginnings, His family at one point had no income, no health insurance, no worker’s compensation and basically nothing to fall back on. He never thought that he would become a businessman, let alone a job creator.

He even said in an interview “I knew in my heart that if I was ever in a position where I could make a difference, I wouldn’t leave people behind.” He set the tone to inclusivity in hiring employees and in treating his customers. That Starbucks culture gives customers an experience of a lifetime.

The Starbucks experience

Well, stating the obvious, Starbucks is a market leader in the coffee industry. And it celebrates 50 golden years of giving coffee experiences to people. But why? Is the coffee really that amazing? It’s not just the coffee, as amazing as it tastes, it’s the Starbucks consumer experience that the brand focuses on.

When Howard Schultz bought the company in 1987, he wanted Starbucks to be “Third Place”, a place where people can hang out and relax between work and home.

The Starbucks culture ensures that the ambiance is cool and clean. The baristas are super friendly and their coffees even have amazing names. So, lesson one is if you’re not competing on experience, you are in the race to the bottom.

We’ve all heard the phrase “It’s the little things that matter”. Starbucks is one of those brands where attention to detail is prime. Here’s how:

Curated music

Back in 2016, Starbucks partnered with Spotify for the music it now pipes through all its stores. The playlists are carefully curated to help create that ambiance of a local coffee shop. Starbucks even hired Holly Hinton and David Legry, the in-house music curators, who are responsible for what gets played. Their work is to find right tracks and artists and see it is fit to be played in the coffee shop.

Personalized name

Apart from bizarre cup size names (Tall, Venti, Grande, Trenta) and their apparent endless menu of frozen drinks, Starbucks is known for writing its customers’ names on the cups. Starbucks doesn’t have to handwrite names. So, why do they bother writing down names, then?

The fact that all baristas write names on the beverages is because it adds to the personalized nature of a visit to Starbucks. Calling out names won’t just inform you that your drink’s ready. It allows a more personalized service. Now let’s be honest, we all love our names to be called out, for the right reasons, of course. 

Aroma therapy

Have you ever walked into a Starbucks outlet and instantly fallen in love with the aroma? Aroma is therapy, did you know? The wonderful aroma of a good coffee is a branding tool! When you walk into any Starbucks, that whiff of coffee aroma hits you like an ocean breeze. And it’s an important selling point for the brand.

Starbucks, a few years ago, reformulated its heated breakfast sandwiches. Not because the taste was bad or it did not sell well. They decided to change it because the smell of heating egg and cheese sandwiches interfered with the coffee aroma. Now that’s what you call commitment!

Brand consistency

Starbucks serves millions of cups of coffee each day. You can walk into a local Starbucks and another one an hour away and have the same experience. Even the coffee will taste exactly the same.

The atmosphere, digital content, the look of the cafe, and sounds — everything feels like Starbucks at every outlet. The end result? A consistent experience with Starbucks. 

Even their social media strategy is calm, inviting and warm — just like their cafes. Their secret to retaining customers and making them brand advocates is consistency.

The Starbucks Foundation

The Starbucks Foundation supports people across the world, enabling community resiliency and prosperity and uplifting communities affected by disasters. The Foundation is known for supporting communities through grants and nonprofit organizations.

Since 2019, thousands of Starbucks partners have nominated organizations in the US and Canada and supported over 2,500 organizations with grants amounting to $5 million and over. The Starbucks Foundation even initiated emergency assistance for victims of Covid-19.

This page is purely informational. Line does not provide financial, legal or accounting advice. This article has been prepared for informational purposes only. It is not intended to provide financial, legal or accounting advice and should not be relied on for the same. Please consult your own financial, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transactions.

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