Since its inception in 1971, Starbucks has experienced an exceptional progress around the globe whereby it has “more than 25,000 retail stores in 75 countries” (Starbucks Top 10 Global Stories of the Year, 2017). Surprisingly, Italy is not included in that list even though the history of the company has a direct association with the espresso bar traditions of the country.
Nevertheless, change is on its way as there has been an announcement by the Starbucks lately that a store will be opened in Milan in 2018 (Starbucks Top 10 Global Stories of the Year, 2017). However, many believe that along with several pros, there could be some disadvantages and challenges for Starbucks with the implementation of such a decision. This my article tends to analyze the advantages and disadvantages of opening a Starbucks store in Italy and whether this risk is worth taking or not.
People who have travelled to Italy and wandered its streets are aware of the apparent fact that coffee is loved by Italians. In fact, it would not be incorrect to state that it is an indispensable component of the Italian culture. We, Italians, made the first espresso machine which reflects our adoration for this beverage. It needs to be mentioned that one can find at least a single coffee bar in every street where people go and enjoy their coffee on a daily basis (even twice or more a day) enjoying not only the beverage but also interconnecting socially (Liang, 2014).
Considering this scenario, it is extremely important to assess and evaluate the probability of both success and failure of opening a Starbucks store in the midst of local Italian coffee culture. The reason is simple. We, Italians, have an exceptionally different coffee business model as compared to what the globally-renowned Starbucks offer.
The Pros: To begin with, the product range offered at Starbucks is rather extensive wherein coffee is not the only beverage served. Customers absolutely love “Frappucino™” – Starbuck’s own brand. Along with tea and coffee, the store also offers an assortment of sandwiches, biscuits, and cakes. One of the most principal differences is the provision of free Wi-Fi to the customers. The presence of comfortable seating arrangement allows customers to enjoy their coffee while remain connected to the world through the Internet. Another factor that could make Starbucks a favorite in Italy is that 99% of the coffee is ethically sourced. As a consequence, customers are also getting to know the significance of ethics and environmental sustainability.
The Cons: As far as the cons of opening Starbucks in Italy are concerned, it needs to be considered that we, Italians, possess certain conventional ideas related to our favorite beverage. We know from where and how to drink our coffee. Considering this, it is easily understandable that the entrance of a global brand within the Italian market could be regarded as a direct hit on the coffee heritage of our culture. In simple words, it could be rather difficult to make an Italian agree to drink coffee at Starbucks in Italy. Also, the prices of Starbucks coffee are relatively higher than the local coffee served in Italian coffee bars. This could be a huge disadvantage to Starbucks if the prices remain the same in Italy.
To cut a long story short, Starbucks is planning to open its first Italian store in Milan as it is a multicultural city. This could be a thoughtful decision considering the reduction of risks. In my opinion, this bold step by the globally-recognized brands demonstrates its confidence in its taste and quality.
I personally love Starbucks (where I always stop for a cup of coffee or cappuccino when I am in the USA) and I am sure that Italian debut will be a success. Go Starbucks!
Photo: Taken at Starbucks store, Warner Bros Studio Plaza Lobby - 3400 Riverside Drive Burbank, CA 91505 - USA