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October 04, 2005

The Excess of Access

[Fourth in a series of posts on Starbucks Tribal Knowledge]

Starbucks will not deny they are everywhere. But they are everywhere because customers want them to be everywhere. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be there. (Starbucks is smart like that.)

Starbucks works under the premise of being everywhere customers want them to be. According to internal research studies, customers would be more satisfied if they had a Starbucks more convenient to them. So Starbucks satisfies customers by opening more stores in more places to be more convenient to more people.

It is startling to note Starbucks is fast approaching having one store for every 10,000 people living in cities like Seattle, Atlanta, Dallas, Boston, and Oakland.

Yet, despite being seemingly everywhere, Starbucks excess access is not impeding financial success. Year-over-year sales growth at Starbucks has consistently been in the upper-to-middle single digit range for years now.

However, Starbucks excess access has changed its business proposition. Starbucks no longer can compete on being quirky and quaint. Instead Starbucks competes on being consistent and convenient. People no longer have to go out of their way to find a Starbucks. A Starbucks literally finds them … and that is all by design.

Starbucks Tribal Knowledge tells us if you stop competing on quirky and quaint and you must start competing on being convenient and consistent. For Starbucks, it has been a trade-off that satisfies more customers leading to greater sales success.


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Great job with this series. It's been really informative.


This series was twenty times more valuable than the Starbuck's "Pour Your Heart Into It" book that is currently on bookshelves. Another proof that "good quality" takes the cake in the marketplace. Kudos!

I once met a Starbucks executive charged with managing brand ubiquity (without degradation). That was 5 years ago. I think (he) has largely succeeded -- because, even though I hear many jokes about the relative ubiquity of Starbucks... I never hear anyone complaining when they want a decent coffee.

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