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Starbucks adapts to market changes with focus on convenience

Renata Geraldo, The Seattle Times on

Published in Business News

Starbucks' unveiling of new stores and more efficient automated machines earlier this month marked the 51-year-old company's definitive shift in focus from community building to convenience.

The changes included a turn to drive-thru and pickup-only stores, a forecast of slower cafe-only store growth and the addition of efficient machines such as one that shortens a 20-step cold brew process to four steps.

The focus on the convenience model contrasts with a community-building, "Third Place" model, said Temple University professor Bryant Simon, who wrote a book about Starbucks.

"More weight is on convenience than ever before," Simon said.

Starbucks' own term for its new initiatives is "experiential convenience."

These changes are part of the company's "Reinvention," a plan announced at Starbucks' 2022 Investor Day at its Sodo headquarters earlier this month. The plan is focused on company growth, according to Starbucks, with a revenue growth estimate ranging from 10% to 12%.

 

Starbucks is also undergoing leadership changes with a new CEO, the exit of its chief operating officer and the elimination of the COO role.

Outgoing COO John Culver said in a statement that the company needs to deliver on "reducing the level of complexity and making work easier for our partners, enabling stronger engagement and connection between our partners and the customers they serve, and delivering experiential convenience." "Partner" is Starbucks' term for its employees.

Changing behaviors

Starbucks is adapting to different consumer behaviors, which changed in part due to COVID-19, said Motley Fool analyst Emily Flippen. Instead of sitting in a coffee shop during the high-infection levels of the pandemic, people favored ordering at drive-thrus more than before.

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