Starbucks’ Foreign Entry Strategy Forty years ago. Starbucks was a single store in Seattle’s Pike Place Market selling premium-roasted coffee. Today. at is a global roaster and retailer of coffee with some 24,464 stores, 47 percent of which are in 63 countries outside the United States. China (2,204 stores). Canada (1,418 stores)• Japan (1,160 stores), South Korea (872 stores), and the United Kingdom (898 stores) are large markets internationally for Starbucks. Starbucks set out on Its current course m the 1980s when the company’s director of marketing, Howard Schultz, came back from a trip to Italy enchanted with the Italian coffeehouse experience. Schultz, who later became CEO. persuaded the company’s owners to experiment with the coffeehouse format—and the Starbucks experience was born. The strategy was to sell the company’s own premium roasted coffee and freshly brewed espresso-style coffee beverages, along with a variety of pastries, coffee accessories teas and other products, in a tastefully designed coffeehouse setting. From the outset. the company focused on selling “a third place experience: rather than just the coffee. The formula led to spectacular success in the United States, where Starbucks went from obscurity to one of the best-known brands in the countty m a decade. Thanks to Starbucks, coffee stores became places for relaxation, chatting with friends. reading the newspaper, holding business meetings, or (more recently) browsing the web. In 1995, with 700 stores across the United States, Starbucks began exploring foreign market opportunities. The first target market was Japan. The company established a joint venture with a local retailer, Sazaby Inc. Each company held a 50 percent stake in the venture, Starbucks Coffee of Japan. Starbucks initially invested 510 million in this venture, its first foreign direct investment. The Starbucks format was then licensed to the venture, which was charged with taking over responsibility for growing Starbucks presence in Japan. To make sure the Japanese operations replicated the “Starbucks experience- in North America, Starbucks transferred some employees to the Japanese operation. The licensing agreement required all Japanese store managers and employees to attend training classes similar to those given to U.S. employees. The agreement also required that stores adhere to the design parameters established in the United States. In 2001. the company introduced a stock option plan for all Japanese employees. making it the first company in Japan to do so. Skeptics doubted that Starbucks would be able to replicate its North American success overseas, but now in 2018 Starbucks has 1,160 stores and a profitable business in Japan. After Japan: the company embarked on an aggressive foreign investment program. In 1998, it purchased Seattle Coffee, a British coffee chain with 60 retail stores, for 584 million. An American couple, originally from Seattle, had started Seattle Coffee with the intention of establishing a Starbucks-like chain in Britain. In the late 1990s. Starbucks opened stores in Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand. New Zealand, South Korea, Malaysia, and-most significantly-China. In Asia, Starbucks’ most common strategy was to license its format to a local operator in return for initial licensing fees and royalties on store revenues. As in Japan, Starbucks insisted on an intensive employee-training program and strict specifications regarding the format and layout of the store. By 2002, Starbucks was pursuing an aggressive expansion in mainland Europe. As Its first entry point. Starbucks chose Switzerland. Drawing on its experience in Asia, the company entered into a joint venture with a Swiss company. Bon Appetit Group. Switzerland’s largest food service company. Bon Appetit was to hold a majority stake in the venture, and Starbucks would license its format to the Swiss company using a similar agreement to those it had used successfully in Asia. This was followed by a joint venture in other countries. United Kingdom leads the charge in Europe with 898 Starbucks stores. By 2014. Starbucks emphasized the rapid growth of its operations in China, where it now has 2.204 stores and plans to roll out another 500 stores within three years. making China by far the second largest market for Starbucks behind the C.S. The success of Starbucks in China has been attributed to a smart partnering strategy. China is not one homogeneous market; the culture of northern China is very different from that of the east, consumer spending power inland is not on par with that of the big coastal cities. To deal with this complexity, Starbucks entered into three different joint ventures! in the north with Beijong Mei Da coffee, in the east with Taiwan-based UniPresident, and in the south with Hong Kong-based Maxim’s Caterers. Each partner bought different strengths and local expertise that helped the company gain insights into the tastes and preferences of local Chinese customers, and to adapt accordingly. Sources: Demmos Kalogacpzeaca. “Jut luveston Can Expect tom Su:backs Corponnon m 2017 71/4 Morkty Foot. Febnisry . 2017: John “Surbocb Is the Latat Ratawara to Post Soft Sales:Font/PK January 26.2W: Treat MVO. ‘Bow Starbucb Plaza to Grow lts Izaanalional Operations.” Forbes. January IS. 2016; Ron Luba. “Lint and pt Starbucics Preteen Show Boycotts Need More Than a Hagan!: The New York lbw. February 3. 2017: Andrew Rost Sod= -Starbucks Set to Add Three to Board. Making It More Divene: The :Line Tog Doc. Awry ‘4. C McLean. -Starboadca Set to Invade Coffee-Laing Cc em. Startle !Mc. October 4.2000: H H. Wang. ‘Pat Dung, Starbucks Did to GO China Ripka: Forbes. July 10. 2012.
Case Discussion Questions
1. Starbucks has become a phenomenon worldwide. with more than 24.000 stores in more than 60 countries. Sales are great even at relatively high prices for its products. This can perhaps be explained in the United States (and other wealthy markets), but how can Starbucks’ success be explained by its foreign market entry in less developed and emerging markets? 2. Do you expect that the growth of the number of Starbucks stores worldwide will continue into more countries, or do you expect Starbucks to focus on more stores in the foreign markets in which the company already has at least some stores already established? 3. With the CEO and driver of the company—Howard Schultz—stepping down as the company’s unquestioned leader, do you expect Starbucks to change its foreign market entry strategy in any way?



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