The genius of Starbucks or, rather, Howard Schultz

When Starbucks appeared in the Bay Area I didn’t notice, longtime espresso drinker that I was. But then some friends told me about how the one they stopped at was a brilliant exercise in marketing. Designed for people who couldn’t yet distinguish a cappuccino from a latte, the store provided an educational experience which flattened the learning curve in the then still esoteric world of good coffee. No feeling of awkwardness in the face of the unknown; it was as easy as going to McDonald’s.

The rest is marketing history.

An article in the New York Times, “The Aesthetics of Starbucks“, gives an insightful account of the current state of the consumer colossus. Whatever one may think of Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz, and what he has wrought, his attunement to the general boomer culture and capacity to multiply offers to his customer base is stunning.

Here in the land of Peets and Cole Coffee and myriad other cafes and roasters, I don’t visit Starbucks much. But I must admit the best coffee I found in Singapore was at Howard’s place.


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