Starbucks: disruptor or disrupted?

Sometime ago I already wrote about Starbucks, outlining my theory about why the giant coffee house is not present in Italy (click here to read). Looks like Starbucks it not passing a good moment after an internal memo leaked into the blogosphere (click here to read the memo). Basically the memo outlines Howard Schultz’ fears that the business model of his company might be headed to commoditization.

There is an interesting article over the Anti-Marketer blog analyzing whether Starbucks is disrupting or being disrupted. Quoting the article:

“At the time when Starbucks began, the big coffee suppliers had enormously overshot the needs of their customers for a cheap, fast cup of coffee. Yet, each “innovation” they introduced kept on making the product either cheaper or faster to prepare, stripping the product of the original reasons we became addicted to it – its flavor first and foremost, but also its ability to facilitate social interaction, savor a great meal, sit and relax, etc.

So Starbucks was a disruptive innovator. It brought flavor, a friendly social setting, quality, plus the consistency that only a chain can do. They brought back the smells, the sensuality, and introduced to Americans a “European experience” — and, what Schultz has described as the sense of theater.”

Starbucks was a disruptor, but apparently it is not protecting itself against future disruptive innovations that might erode its own business:

“And, more importantly, they’ve overshot the needs of their customers, and are ripe for disruption. To speed up coffee service in order to sell everything else too, they installed automatic machines. Automatic machines can be more consistent, especially for inexperienced operators, but they also reduce the flavor and the authenticity of the experience, and show competitors how they too can produce a cup just as good as Starbucks (i.e. open themselves to commoditization).”

You can read the whole article here.

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