Starbucks-Change In Practice, Not In Purpose

In our training programs we regularly emphasize that while purpose does not normally change, the acts conducted to carry out that purpose often do. A strong example surfaced in the coffee industry last week.

Starbucks introduced "instant coffee." Perish the thought. What about the "experience" of purchasing coffee from a Starbucks location? The baristas who serve you. The ambience... the cool music that is normally playing while you wait for your brew. They already had whole bean coffee you could have at the office or home. Wasn't that enough of a departure? It might seem that they had lost sight of their purpose. Maybe not.

While the unique experience (and some would say taste) of Starbucks coffee is definitely part of their purpose, one must not forget profit as another element of it. With their new VIA line of instant coffees, people can now replicate at least some part of the experience almost anywhere. Their marketing material states: With Starbucks VIA Ready Brew, you can have great coffee anytime, anywhere and any way you want. Also consider this: According to an article in Businessweek, the instant coffee industry outside the US is a 20 billion dollar industry-with no Starbucks presence.

I would imagine that few people will use VIA to supplant the genuine experience, but instead will use it when they can't have the full experience. And that means people will partake of the product MORE often-which means higher profit for Starbucks. And once again, purpose is fulfilled.

On what change to your lineup are you "brewing?" If it will help you better accomplish your purpose, maybe it's time to "pour" it into your lineup.