Tech, Small Business Can Learn Plenty from Starbucks
People scoff at me when I refer to Starbucks as a tech company , but, with more than a cursory glance, it's obvious that mobile, social, digital and a sense of what's hip drives the company's most recent -- and ongoing -- hyper-growth phase.
In this article, I take a slightly different approach from my others. Because most of the media doesn't pull the real nuggets from conference calls, I excerpt the quantitative and qualitative stuff I consider most important. I use this information to make the case for Starbucks as a tech company. I close by explaining how local retail, particularly coffeehouses, must stop playing victim to the corporate behemoth.
The free-form style meshes nicely with the gritty, rough-around-the-edges, yet freakishly refined vibe we're nurturing with our still-evolving videos from TheBeach in Southern California.
So, from Starbucks FY13 Q1 earnings conference call , some seemingly random, though chronological and complementary blurbs:
This season, and for the first time, a Starbucks card was perhaps the nation's single most frequently given holiday gift, with one in 10 U.S. adults receiving a Starbucks card and $2 million worth of our exclusive first-ever steel Starbucks card selling out on Internet luxury goods retailer Gilt.com in only, believe it or not, six minutes.
I got my hands on a steel Starbucks card shortly after Christmas. It's a symbolic item, but it shows that Starbucks is more than a place to buy coffee; it's a daily habit, bordering on obsession for quite a few people. Like Lululemon (LULU) and Apple (AAPL) , it's a lifestyle brand.
As such, it knows where it needs to be to resonate most strongly with its core customer:
And we will expand Teavana's current 300-store footprint from largely mall-based stores to urban street locations, where Starbucks obviously has very strong capabilities ...
Starbucks recently closed on Teavana acquisition. You heard the man; Howard Schultz will overhaul Tevana's absolutely awful geographic strategy. I wrote about it in July, 2011, on the eve of Teavana's IPO for Seeking Alpha in "Teavana Needs to Penetrate Urban Areas to Become a Buy."
At first blush, you might not associate mobile and digital efforts with a focus on "urban street locations," but it's there. Urban consumers tend toward mobile and digital adoption/savvy. Plus, they have disposable income. Like LULU, Starbucks locates where these people are; it infiltrates the best neighborhoods in big cities and, although the company doesn't break down sales, I would love to see an urban/suburban side-by-side of its sales.