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Starbucks: the third place

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The coffee shop or coffee house is not a new phenomenon. Lloyd’s of London had its origins in one such coffee house. The founder of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, found his inspiration in the expresso bar so popular in Italy. Coffee shops had always been community gathering places, which is what Starbucks has intended its own stores to become.


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You get more than the finest coffee when you visit Starbucks. You get great people, first-rate music, a comfortable and upbeat meeting place, and sound advice on brewing excellent coffee at home. At home, you’re part of a family. At work you’re part of a company. And somewhere in between there’s a place where you can sit back and be yourself. That’s what a Starbucks store is to many of its customers — a kind of ‘third place’ where they can escape, reflect, read, chat or listen.

Howard Schultz (quoted in Hitt et al., 2001: C-576)

Our main advertising media is the store itself.

Lin, vice-president of Starbuck’s joint venture partner in China (quoted in Fowler, 2003)

Yet cup by cup, Starbucks is caffeinating the world, its green-and-white emblem beckoning to consumers on three continents. In 1999, Starbucks Corp. had 281 stores abroad. Today, it has about 1,200 — and it’s still in the early stages of a plan to colonize the globe.

(Holmes et al., 2003a)

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© 2004 Colin White

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White, C. (2004). Starbucks: the third place. In: Strategic Management. Palgrave, London.

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