Starbucks: Buy It, Own It, Love It
As an "objective writer," I know I'm not supposed to say that.
I'm also not supposed to dog stats guys, bean counters or MBAs.
In my work, past and present, I interact with these folks. They often wow me with their knowledge. And they inform my work.
There's a place for careful study of the numbers; however, traders as well as investors ultimately lose if they live and die by the numbers.
P/E's too high, I can't buy! or it's too low, let's go! can get you killed.
Generally, I agree with Springsteen, Blind faith in your leaders, or in anything, will get you killed , but not in relation to Starbucks (SBUX) CEO Howard Schultz.
With Schultz, as impressive as they are, you don't need numbers.
I'll give you some anyway. The ones that matter -- from Thursday's SBUX earnings call and an email I requested and received from the company.
Loyalty, Starbucks Cards, Mobile
There is $3 billion loaded onto Starbucks cards. That's 25% of U.S. store tender, according to Schultz.
There are 10 million Starbucks rewards loyalty program members; 50% or 5 million are active members.
There've been 100 million mobile payment transactions since Starbucks launched its mobile app in January 2011.
Count 'em, 2 million mobile payment transactions per week. That's just through the Starbucks app; later this month, the company launches what it calls a "complementary" mobile payment service in conjunction with Twitter founder Jack Dorsey's Square.
I took notes during the call. The following snippets from Schultz, all about mobile, resonated:
We believe the rabid adoption of mobile gives us an opportunity to create a unique and much deeper relationship with our customers directly and in the moment ... We have the unprecedented ability to ... explore new revenue streams in music and digital publishing. .
... we continue to push the envelope ... by adding features and interactive activity in such areas as tipping, mobile ordering and personalization .
Starbucks is embracing the seismic shifts in consumer behavior that are well under way .
That's a humble understatement.
There's nobody even close to Starbucks in mobile.
I gave you some quantitative and some qualitative data. Now, I'll throw in some personal experience. Everybody's multi-platform these days; I've always been a multi-method stock market ethnographer.
When I got my iPhone 5 from Apple (AAPL) , the first thing I did was download the Starbucks app.
Apple started the mobile craze. Starbucks picked up on the trend Steve Jobs set way early. It hit the ground running.
Here's the deal: In 2008, Stephen Gillett, now a president at Best Buy (BBY) , joined Starbucks as CIO. In 2009, he hired Adam Brotman, now Starbucks chief digital officer.