Howard Schultz: “Onward”

So Howard’s people sent me a review copy of his book today. One assumes that reaching out to marketing bloggers was part of the launch strategy (I’m all in favor of that!) I was also interested to see copies of his book floating around Starbucks outlets (hey, if you have a massive retail footprint, why not use it?)

I confess I have not yet read the book but please check back for some deathless prose on the subject!

Here’s the blurb:

ONWARD
How Starbucks Fought for Its Life without Losing Its Soul
by Howard Schultz, CEO of Starbucks
March 29, 2011, Rodale

In 2008, Howard Schultz made the unprecedented decision to return as the CEO eight years after he stepped down from daily oversight of the company and became chairman. Concerned that the Starbucks experience had been compromised by its quest for growth, Schultz was determined to help it return to its core values and restore its financial health. In ONWARD, he shares the remarkable story of his return and the company’s ongoing transformation under his leadership, revealing how, during one of the most tumultuous economic times in history, Starbucks again achieved profitability and sustain­ability.

Schultz not only had to act fast and aggressively on a global scale, but had to look in the mirror, confront the company’s blemishes and search for answers to such hard questions as:

·    How can you evolve your brand—especially an iconic one—to be relevant to a new age while being true to its roots?
·    How can you grow a company without losing an intimate relationship with each customer
·    How can you revive your employees’ passion for your company’s founding principles?

There was no easy roadmap and plenty of risks. From a leaked memo that exposed Starbucks’ troubles to the world, to the costly decision to close all Starbucks stores for a day of retraining, to introducing an aggressive pipeline of new innovations to land the next blockbuster offering, ONWARD takes readers through the tough decisions and painful steps of a turnaround that should inspire anyone to reinvent themselves and triumph against the odds.

Well alright then! Sounds like a page-turner. In general I am an admirer of Starbucks marketing, so I think I will make a valiant attempt to read it.

To show what a stand-up guy I am, and as a thanks to Howie for the book, here’s a link to buy it on Amazon.

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Starbucks “Stealth” Stores, McCafe Halo…

Starbucks has ditched its branding on three trial stores and redesigned them to resemble independent local cafes. The trial, which is running in the coffee giant’s home city of Seattle, uses the address of the cafe in its branding. For example one is called 15th Avenue Coffee and Tea. In addition the products sold are also non-branded. Starbucks senior vice president Tim Pfeiffer said the new stores aimed to reflect the local community more than the chain’s regular stores currently did. One of the trial outlets will feature poetry readings and live music.
starbucks escher
Photo Credit: Bean Activist

Starbucks Credits McD’s, Cost Savings for Sales Improvement
Starbucks Coffee Co. appears to be coming out of freefall — thanks, in part, to marketing by McDonald’s. In a third-quarter-earnings call this afternoon, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz credited margin improvements, cost savings and attention brought to the category by its rival’s big-budget McCafe launch with helping to improve Starbucks’ same-store sales. The chain’s same-store sales fell 6% during its fiscal third quarter in the U.S., but that still bests the prior quarter, when same-store sales were down 8%.

mccafe

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Amazon v Zappos, Kindle v 1984, B&N v Kindle

Amazon.com today announced that it has reached an agreement to acquire Zappos.com. a leader in online apparel and footwear sales that strives to provide shoppers with the best possible service and selection. The acquisition brings together two companies who share a passion for serving customers and whose customers benefit from cultures of innovation and long term thinking.
Sneakers
This incident is indicative of what kinds of trouble can emerge when we reframe “content” as “service.” As numerous pundits have noted, the physical book analogy would be Amazon breaking into your home and taking away a book you’d purchased (leaving you a refund on your desk, of course). But a Kindle book isn’t a physical book–it’s a service, one that (as the Kindle license makes clear) you don’t really own.
Barnes and Noble just revealed that it’s upcoming e-reader is the one from Plastic Logic that we’ve long heard about. Which means the Kindle may have a decent competitor on the scene. After all, Plastic Logic’s e-reader is the most interesting-looking and sounding one yet–it’s design is super-minimalist thanks to its touchscreen, it’s supposedly a very slender device indeed, and it has a whopping 8.5 by 11-inch electronic ink display that rivals the Kindle DX’s. Its built to support the EPub format, also used by Sony, which is how B&N plans on releasing the texts from its e-bookstore.
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