I have always wanted to visit
and its beautiful history. Apart from the architectural allure of the place, Italy
as a country has always held a certain charm. I had read in books and watched
in movies of the little coffee shops and espresso bars lining Italian streets.
As a coffee lover and a serial café hopper, the strong coffee culture of Italy
was very attractive to me. Naturally, when debating on where to go for a summer
holiday, Italy Italy (specifically
) was top
of my list. Rome
It turns out that the CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, has been asked that very question countless of times. His response has always been that Starbucks will eventually go into
Italy’s market, which brings up the question –
What is it about
that has preventing Schultz from entering even up till now? Italy
There is a huge difference in the original Italian coffee culture and the inspired Starbucks one. Italians pride themselves on uniqueness and diversity, whereas Starbucks is ultimately an American model that pursues growth through franchises. More fundamentally, Italians and Americans drink different types of coffee, namely espressos versus the American drip coffee. Italians also drink their espressos in the café itself, whereas the working American population is rarely seen without a cupboard cup of coffee in hand aboard the subway. Such differences, while seemingly insignificant and small, could seriously hamper a Starbucks foray into
Furthermore, could you imagine the humiliation if Starbucks were to venture into the Italian market, only to fail? Should the Italians stamp a seal of disapproval on the Starbucks brand, it would be a very embarrassing situation for the international coffee powerhouse. Coffee in
Italy is extremely
readily available and it would prove a daunting task for Starbucks to establish
a coffee franchise there. It is no wonder that Schultz has hesitated for so
long in bringing Starbucks to Italy.
Despite such reservations, there is potential for the Starbucks model in
Italians are normally quick about drinking their espressos because it tastes
the best when it’s fresh. Starbucks, on the other hand, has managed to create a
café culture in America (and
influenced many other regions of the world, including places like Singapore and China).
Rather than competing directly in the market for quick coffees, Starbucks
should capitalize on its strengths, which is creating comfortable environments
that serve yummy coffee for people to leisurely interact with one another, but
with an Italian touch. By carefully presenting a different way of enjoying not
just Italian-type coffee but also American-style coffee, Starbucks could very
well succeed in the country that inspired its birth. Judging by the success of
McDonald’s “McCafe” in Italy,
Starbucks should have more confidence that its brand will do well there.
However, of course, such things are always a lot easier said than done. Penetrating the Italian market will require a lot of careful strategizing to get it just right. We will just have to see when Howard Schultz decides its finally time to return “home”.