Starbucks faces several challenges in addressing the risk of expanding its operations into the Italian market. For instance, it is pertinent to mention that most Italians practice an intimate and personal coffee experience (Faris, 2012). To some extent, such a deep coffee culture may prove to be cumbersome for Starbucks to offer. Coffee is mainly served as a ‘fast food’ in markets that are familiar to Starbucks. This makes the product to move quite in the established markets such as the United States and Canada. Regarding the Italian coffee culture, the product is mainly served as a ‘slow food.’ Also, Italians hate plastic cups frequently used by Starbucks.
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This can be explained by the fact that Italians hardly desire to take a coffee while driving, walking, or when outside the established bars. If Starbucks eventually declines to enter the Italian market, its corporate image may be damaged. The reputational risk can only be minimized if Starbucks expands its activities to Italy, even if the profit margin is smaller than the rest of the other international markets (Bryan, Robert & Bradley, 2012). The company can still earn attractive revenue owing to the strong Italian coffee tradition.
There are indeed a number of strategic advantages for Starbucks if the company opts to enter the Italian market. For example, the coffee company can record impressive growth in Italy due to the high degree of coffee culture (Bryan, Robert & Bradley, 2012). The latter benchmark has been used to assess all the other potential coffee markets. The company can still excel in Italian if it adopts effective marketing strategies. Perhaps, the most important duty for Starbucks before venturing into the Italian market is to transform the perception of clients in regards to the nature of coffee offered by the company. In other words, Italians should be persuaded to understand that the espresso coffees offered by the Starbucks Company are equally suitable.
The competitor’s marketing strategies should inform and influence Starbucks’ entry into this new market. To begin with, the management at Starbucks should understand that Italians still consume a lot of coffee even if the product is sold as a ‘slow food.’ Additionally, there are potential competitors in the global market that have managed to establish a strong influence in the Italian market.
Therefore, the management should not refrain from the Italian market merely based on the strong Italian coffee culture. The company can leverage the Italian coffee culture and establish a strong and viable market for itself in Italy. Moreover, it may not be strategically correct for Starbucks to shy off from the Italian market, bearing in mind that a host of competitors is performing quite well in the same market platform (Plog, 2005).
It is also vital to mention that effective marketing strategies may be employed by the Starbucks Company to weaken the strong Italian tradition in the intake of coffee. There are no markets that lack a particular tradition attached to the consumption of certain foodstuffs. It requires time and influence to capture the interest of any targeted market. In any case, the business model for Starbucks has a powerful inclination towards the espresso experience. Therefore, the company may penetrate and establish itself fully in the Italian market if it aligns its business objectives with the Italian culture in coffee consumption (Plog, 2005).
Bryan, S.C., Robert, C.C. & & Bradley, B.W. (2012). Starbucks: Maintaining a Clear Position. Web.
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Faris, S. (2012). Grounds zero: A Starbucks-free Italy. Web.
Plog, S. C. (2005). Starbucks: More than a cup of coffee. Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly, 46(2), 284-287.