Starbucks Case Study 2007

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In 2003, Starbucks was listed as one of the Fortune 500. Despite the ongoing recession, the company had managed a 31% increase in net revenues for the year. This was reasonable, considering they only spent about 1% of total sales on marketing. All of this, coupled with the fact that they were popular with customers and employees, was a sure recipe for success.

While their domestic figures were rosy, the international operations were losing ground. The once profitable Japanese market was declining, and the European and Middle Eastern ventures failed to gain momentum. Unfortunately, the U.S. market was experiencing saturation and the only way to grow seemed to be the overseas markets. They achieved entry through the use of wholly owned subsidiaries, licensing deals, or joint ventures.

Starbucks did not escape the common practice of adapting and integrating the business to different geographic regions, but they did stick to their guns when it came to their standard product line-up and their no-smoking policy. Surprisingly, these conditions were met with wide acceptance. Analysts felt the real challenge would be in the European marketplace, what with coffeehouses on every corner to compete with. Again, the stores did very well, mainly because of the newer, cleaner environment they provided compared to the older locations of established houses.

Business was good, but it was not without its problems. There was the political upheaval in the Middle East, followed by further tension after then CEO Howard Schultz commented on growing anti-Semitism in the region. Their integrity came under fire when certain Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO's) accused them of purchasing coffee beans under questionable social and economic conditions. These situations, together with difficult economic times globally, meant that Starbucks was likely going to take a hit somewhere. Eventually, they shut down their Israeli operations altogether.

There is speculation that the company was pouring too much capital into its complex system of joint ventures and licensing agreements, and could not get a hold of its operational costs. They decided to source some of their merchandise and disposables to less expensive suppliers as an immediate cost-cutting measure. They also decided to cut back on the number of new stores and shut down unprofitable ones. Starbucks has had to learn the hard way that external forces go far beyond a society's taste in coffee, and that too much growth can have negative effects.

Internal Analysis


· Strong commitment to quality and community

· Popular with their employees
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