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The Globalization of Starbucks

The Rise of the Largest Coffee Chain in the World

We changed the way people live their lives, what they do when they get up in the morning, how they reward themselves, and where they meet. (Orin Smith, Ex Starbucks Ceo)
我們改變了人們的生活方式,他們早上起床時會做什麼,他們如何獎勵自己,以及他們在哪裡見面。(Orin Smith,前星巴克首席執行官)

Introduction 介紹

Starbucks has created a global empire of coffee. The chain has established itself as the largest coffee chain in the world. As of June 30, 2019, there are over 30,000 stores spanning almost 80 countries. The company went from a small coffee bean store to a global icon. As McDonald’s revolutionized fast food, Starbucks revolutionized coffee. Yet, like McDonald’s, how has the brand globalized, and what does that mean for local culture and business?
星巴克創造了一個全球咖啡帝國。該連鎖店已成為世界上最大的咖啡連鎖店。截至 2019 年 6 月 30 日,在近 80 個國家/地區擁有 30,000 多家門店。該公司從一家小型咖啡豆店發展成為全球偶像。正如麥當勞徹底改變了速食一樣,星巴克也徹底改變了咖啡。然而,就像麥當勞一樣,該品牌是如何全球化的,這對當地文化和商業意味著什麼?


The Original Three Founders (Zev Siegl, Jerry Baldwin & Gordon Bowker) YouTube/Bloomberg Business
最初的三位創始人(Zev Siegl、Jerry Baldwin 和 Gordon Bowker) YouTube/Bloomberg Business

Though it may seem unusual now, good coffee was not always a part of American popular culture. Today, we have the luxury of many boutiques and expensive coffee houses, yet back in the early ’70s, bad coffee was regular. Founder Gordon Bowker was a coffee enthusiast and had been driving all the way to Vancouver, British Columbia in search of good coffee. This was the vision behind Starbucks. Founders Jerry Baldwin, Gordon Bowker, and Zev Siegl believed that if they could introduce Seattliets to good coffee, they would be hooked. Thus they decided to open their own store.
雖然現在看起來很不尋常,但好咖啡並不總是美國流行文化的一部分。今天,我們擁有許多精品店和昂貴的咖啡館,但在 70 年代初,劣質咖啡是家常便飯。創始人戈登·鮑克(Gordon Bowker)是一位咖啡愛好者,他一路開車到不列顛哥倫比亞省的溫哥華尋找優質咖啡。這就是星巴克背後的願景。創始人傑里·鮑德溫(Jerry Baldwin)、戈登·鮑克(Gordon Bowker)和澤夫·西格爾(Zev Siegl)認為,如果他們能向Seattliets介紹好咖啡,他們就會被吸引住。因此,他們決定開設自己的商店。

The First Starbucks Store Flickr/Román Emin

The first Starbucks opened in 1971 near Seattle’s Pike Place Market. The brand was named “Starbucks” after the first mate in the iconic novel Moby Dick. The store began by selling roasted coffee beans by Peet’s. Alfred Peet was a coffee expert that ran a store in Berkley, California, and provided the men much insight into the coffee business. Peet eventually helped the founders learn how to roast their own coffee beans, which they used from there on out. Starbucks struggled in its early days. The combination of the surgeon general issuing a warning on coffee’s health impacts, a bad season for Brazillian coffee beans spiked price, and their original store being scheduled for demolition almost destroyed the company. Yet, the company survived and began to make profits.
第一家星巴克於 1971 年在西雅圖派克市場附近開業。該品牌以標誌性小說《白鯨》中的大副命名“星巴克”。這家商店最初出售 Peet's 的烘焙咖啡豆。阿爾弗雷德·彼特(Alfred Peet)是一位咖啡專家,在加利福尼亞州伯克利經營著一家商店,併為這些人提供了許多有關咖啡業務的見解。彼特最終幫助創始人學會了如何烘焙自己的咖啡豆,從那時起他們就一直使用這種咖啡豆。星巴克在成立之初就舉步維艱。外科醫生對咖啡的健康影響發出警告,巴西咖啡豆的糟糕季節使價格飆升,以及他們原來的商店計劃拆除,這些因素幾乎摧毀了公司。然而,該公司倖存下來並開始盈利。

The original Starbucks’ stores were much different from today; they originally only sold coffee beans. It wasn’t until they opened up their fifth store in 1982 on University Way that they only began selling brewed coffee. Howard Schultz, a New York marketer, was also brought in that year. He convinced the group to add the famous espresso bars that make Starbucks so iconic in 1983. Finally, in 1987, the original members sold their shares to a group of investors. After the purchase, rapid growth was seen. By 1990, Starbucks had opened 30 stores, and by 1992, they had 53.
原來的星巴克門店與今天大不相同;他們最初只賣咖啡豆。直到 1982 年他們在 University Way 開設了第五家商店,他們才開始銷售沖泡咖啡。紐約營銷人員霍華德·舒爾茨(Howard Schultz)也在那一年被帶進來。1983年,他說服該集團增加了著名的濃縮咖啡吧,這些咖啡棒使星巴克成為標誌性的。最後,在1987年,原始成員將他們的股份出售給了一群投資者。收購后,出現了快速增長。到 1990 年,星巴克開設了 30 家門店,到 1992 年,他們擁有 53 家門店。

Initial Growth 初始增長

How was this rapid growth achieved? Howard Schultz played a crucial role in this. He understood the demand and popularity of the espresso bar. This implementation of the bars into the stores boosted Starbucks ’ popularity and was deemed “extremely successful.” Furthermore, they began to migrate outside of Seattle. They began opening stores in San Francisco and made a crucial acquisition of Peet’s coffee, the company that inspired their success. After brand changes, the former Peet’s coffee stores flourished. From that point on, growth was exponential. They finally became public in 1992, starting at $17 a share, and only continued expanding.
這種快速增長是如何實現的?霍華德·舒爾茨(Howard Schultz)在這方面發揮了至關重要的作用。他瞭解濃縮咖啡吧的需求和受歡迎程度。這種在商店中實施酒吧的做法提高了星巴克的知名度,並被認為“非常成功”。此外,他們開始遷徙到西雅圖以外的地方。他們開始在舊金山開設門店,並收購了Peet s coffee,這家公司激發了他們的成功。品牌變更后,前彼特咖啡店蓬勃發展。從那時起,增長呈指數級增長。他們終於在1992年上市,起價為每股17美元,並且還在繼續擴大。

The first international store outside of North America was introduced in 1996 in Japan. By this point, the chain already dominated much of the United States, and they began their conquest of the global economy. 


The initial success of the franchise proved in America proved potential for global conquest. They first expanded throughout the United States and then to Canada. After going public and growing further, they began to explore opportunities outside of North America. They initially began by “sweeping through Canada, China, Japan, Taiwan, Britain, and much of continental Europe.”(Thompson Arsel 2004, 1) These markets all showed potential, and Starbucks made sure to always stay ahead with new innovations.
特許經營權在美國取得的初步成功證明瞭征服全球的潛力。他們首先擴展到整個美國,然後擴展到加拿大。在上市並進一步發展后,他們開始探索北美以外的機會。他們最初「橫掃加拿大、中國、日本、臺灣、英國和歐洲大陸的大部分地區」。。(湯普森·阿塞爾 2004, 1)這些市場都顯示出潛力,星巴克確保始終保持領先地位,不斷創新。

The Starbucks App First Released in 2009. Starbucks.com
星巴克應用程式於 2009 年首次發佈。 Starbucks.com

Over the years, they transformed their stores from a boutique coffee bean seller to your local cafe where friends can chat, and people can relax. They began this venture by partnering with Barnes and Noble expecting to lure shoppers that were reading or relaxing with a cup of coffee. Starbucks has always been ahead of the curve on innovative new ideas. For example, in 2009, Starbucks introduced its mobile app. The app has grown to be essential for many people’s smartphones. The app included order pickup, rewards programs, mobile ordering, and virtual payments. Starbucks was one of the first major food chains to have an app of this nature. Today, almost every major fast-food company has developed some mobile app due to Starbucks’ initial success. Furthermore, in 2010 Starbucks transformed its stores to have free unlimited Wi-Fi. This was a significant innovation from Starbucks. This single decision changed the entire landscape of Starbucks for the following decade. Starbucks became a place where students could study, employees could take calls and check emails, and friends could browse the internet. Through these innovative changes, Starbucks turned itself from a coffee bean seller to a cafe-like experience. Due to these reasons, they were able to succeed globally.
多年來,他們將自己的商店從精品咖啡豆銷售商轉變為當地的咖啡館,朋友可以在那裡聊天,人們可以放鬆。他們通過與 Barnes and Noble 合作開始了這項冒險,希望吸引正在閱讀或喝杯咖啡放鬆的購物者。星巴克在創新新理念方面一直處於領先地位。例如,在 2009 年,星巴克推出了其行動應用程式。該應用程式已發展成為許多人智慧手機的必備工具。該應用程式包括訂單取貨、獎勵計劃、移動訂購和虛擬支付。星巴克是最早擁有這種性質的應用程式的主要食品連鎖店之一。如今,由於星巴克的初步成功,幾乎每家大型速食公司都開發了一些移動應用程式。此外,在 2010 年,星巴克將其門店改造為提供免費的無限 Wi-Fi。這是星巴克的一項重大創新。這個決定改變了星巴克接下來十年的整個格局。星巴克成為學生可以學習的地方,員工可以接聽電話和查看電子郵件,朋友可以瀏覽互聯網。通過這些創新變革,星巴克將自己從咖啡豆銷售商轉變為咖啡館般的體驗。由於這些原因,他們能夠在全球範圍內取得成功。

The Former Largest Starbucks, Found in Shanghai, China. The Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Yet, any Western company that expands overseas often faces the issue of glocalization, how to adapt a brand to local culture. Starbucks has not had to do this all too much as their business model and brand is quite straightforward, yet they do make regional adjustments. In a Huffington Post article from 2013 author, April Xiaoyi Xu states, “too much localisation can become "a detrimental strategy" for global conglomerates, and lead those companies to lose both their "foreign" and "international appeal."”(Xu 2013) China managed to over-extend itself into localization in the past. The article describes how Starbucks attempted to create new local drinks and merchandise, which all performed poorly. It seems that they have improved over the years, but if they hope to remain dominant over the global coffee industry, they must find ways to adapt but not overstretch.
然而,任何向海外擴張的西方公司都經常面臨全球本土化的問題,即如何使品牌適應當地文化。星巴克不必這樣做太多,因為他們的商業模式和品牌非常簡單,但他們確實進行了區域調整。在2013年《赫芬頓郵報》的一篇文章中,徐曉藝指出,“過多的當地語系化可能會成為全球企業集團的'有害戰略',並導致這些公司失去'外國'和'國際吸引力'。(徐 2013)過去,中國設法將自己過度擴展到當地語系化。文章描述了星巴克如何嘗試創造新的本地飲料和商品,但都表現不佳。這些年來,他們似乎已經有所進步,但如果他們希望在全球咖啡行業保持主導地位,他們必須找到適應但又不過度擴張的方法。


Starbucks Globalization Diagram. Jonathan Harris Princeton.edu

Sure, Starbucks has completely changed the landscape for how Americans perceive coffee, yet there are many downsides as well. Starbucks has significantly promoted a new luxury coffee industry, yet with that, they have become monopolistic in nature. For example, from my house, I am a five-minute drive to five Starbucks locations. Through their “hyper-aggressive expansion strategy”(Thompson Arsel 2004, 1) they have completely saturated the market, allowing for little competition. Furthermore, they have expanded so much internationally that they are jeopardizing local culture and business, much like McDonald’s. As we have seen, their localization efforts have been mixed, which is not good for sustaining local culture. Craig Thompson and Zeynep Arsel put it best, they state, “Starbucks has become a cultural icon for all the rapacious excesses, predatory intentions, and cultural homogenization that social critics attribute to globalization.”(Thompson Arsel 2004, 1) The injection of Western brands into foreign cultures only perpetuates the inevitable problem of cultural homogeneity. Though the brand’s humble beginnings and cultural revolution are inspiring, it’s sad to see the absolute cultural imperialism the brand has transformed into. Furthermore, the company has struggled with racism in the past, which makes it even worse that it has such market dominance. As consumers, we must support companies with our wallets. Next time you go out for coffee, maybe support a local startup. As globalization continues into the future, we must be careful allowing companies to destroy culture, kill local business and commit cultural imperialism just for the sake of profit.


Starbucks completely revolutionized the coffee industry. It transformed bad coffee from being accepted to boutique coffee being expected. The company has always been a staple of Seattle, yet its meteoric rise has led to many problems. Whenever a brand reaches such heights, it’s hard to recover. They have saturated the market and continue to commit cultural imperialism. Is it time to ditch Starbucks, or are there frappucino’s worth it? 

Sources and Rubric

The Original Three Founders (Zev Siegl, Jerry Baldwin & Gordon Bowker) YouTube/Bloomberg Business
最初的三位創始人(Zev Siegl、Jerry Baldwin 和 Gordon Bowker) YouTube/Bloomberg Business

The First Starbucks Store Flickr/Román Emin

The Starbucks App First Released in 2009. Starbucks.com
星巴克應用程式於 2009 年首次發佈。 Starbucks.com

The Former Largest Starbucks, Found in Shanghai, China. The Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider
前最大的星巴克,位於中國上海。哈裡森·雅各斯(Harrison Jacobs)/商業內幕

Starbucks Globalization Diagram. Jonathan Harris Princeton.edu