Starbucks is one of the most popular coffee chains in the USA as well as many other countries. However, it still has a number of competitors that pose certain threats to the brand. The major competitors of Starbucks are Dunkin Donuts, local coffee chains and McDonalds (Lopez par. 4). It is possible to develop a perceptual map to understand what position the brand in question occupies. The map will include such major attributes as price and quality as well as such supplementary (but quite important) attributes as experience and reward system (see fig. 1).
It is clear that Starbuck is now in the ideal position. The quality of the brand is not questioned and this is one of the reasons the brand has so many loyal customers. More so, the brand offers a variety of products, which makes the chain popular among many different people. Apart from the quality of the products, the brand offers a unique experience, which can be seen as an added value that, in its turn, encourages customers to be loyal to the brand (Grewal and Levy 170). The price of the products is quite high and this is often the reason why customers choose other (more affordable) brands. This can be quite an issue for Starbucks as its competitors (especially local chains) offer products at lower prices. Nonetheless, Starbucks has an effective reward system that keeps people coming as they manage to get lower prices for their loyalty. Hence, the price policy has proved to be quite effective.
The positioning strategy may remain quite the same. Starbucks will employ a high-price and affinity strategy with a special focus on distribution. Of course, high quality should remain a priority for the brand. Apart from that, expansion and further differentiation are seen as an effective strategy for the brand (Spors par. 2). It is also essential to focus on the customers’ needs and wants. Loyalty programs should also be developed to fit the changing trends in the society.
It is also possible to develop a brief positioning statement. As for the target audience, it is very wide. At the same time, it is necessary to note that adults and young adults (20-50) are the target audience of the brand. These people often do not have time to make coffee for themselves and they like to get it from a brand that is customer-oriented. Visiting a Starbucks restaurant is associated with pleasant experience and these people often need positive emotions to have some rest from their hectic lives. Meeting at Starbucks has become a trend in the USA as well as other countries. Since Starbucks offers a variety of flavors, people pertaining to different ethnicities, age groups and genders can find what they like.
As for the category Starbucks competes in, it is the category of high-quality coffee, hot drinks and pastry. This category is rapidly developing as people still like spending time over a cup of a hot drink. Pleasant atmosphere and delicious desserts can be seen as two most important aspects.
It is necessary to point out that Starbucks has an important point of difference that enables the brand to compete effectively in its category. This point is the experience people get in Starbucks chains. The experience is quite complex as it includes satisfaction from drinking high-quality coffee, having drinks in a very pleasant customer-oriented atmosphere and pertaining to a circle of privileged people who understand the value of quality.
People also feel certain degree of connectedness as the company continues adding new values to the brand. Thus, its environmental responsibility is an important principle valued by the customers. Finally, the brand’s expansion enables people to have the same experience in many cities and many countries, which is important in the modern globalized world where people travel a lot.
Finally, there is convincing evidence that the brand manages to deliver what it promises to the customers. As has been mentioned above, there are functional benefits as the chain is very big. People can find Starbucks restaurants in many cities all over the world. The fascinating experiences the customers have in these restaurants are available in many locations and, hence, people can benefit from such accessibility. The brand’s focus on quality is another benefit that shows the company’s determination to keep its promises. When other companies tried to offer products at lower prices (often at the expense of quality), the company remained faithful to its principles and the high quality was preserved. This (as well as company’s announcements) can make the customers sure, that they will keep drinking high-quality coffee.
In conclusion, it is possible to note that Starbucks is still in the ideal position as the brand is characterized by high quality, focus on the customer, accessibility, offering unique experiences as well as environmental responsibility. Further expansion is needed as people should be able to visit Starbuck restaurant wherever they go and since the world is shrinking Starbucks should appear in almost all countries of the world.
Grewal, Dhruv, and Michael Levy. Marketing. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2013. Print.
Lopez, Adriana. “How Regional Coffee Chains Are Competing with National Heavy Hitters Like Starbucks.” Forbes. 2013. Web.
Spors, Kelly. “Starbucks Heats up Competition against Local Coffee Shops.” American Express. 2014. Web.