Fact #1: There are more Starbucks in London than there are in New York (237-231). (NYTimes)
Fact #2: “After eight years spent setting up 63 French Starbucks stores, the company has never turned a profit in France.” (NYTimes)
Interesting. American chains like McDonald’s and Starbucks have to work harder to build a customer base in Europe. I’ve noticed this in small things and large, like the higher quality of Starbucks pastries here in England, or the fancy decor and desserts at McCafes in Austria.
The New York Times wrote recently about how Starbucks is redoubling its efforts to increase its market share, and maybe even turn a profit, in Europe. The article comments both on differences in business practices and strategy that Starbucks hopes will build its brand in England and on the continent. Challenging, given the economic downturn.
The business strategy is of course interesting, especially to realize that the result is that the offerings are basically higher quality here than in the US (sorry, friends):
McDonald’s, by contrast, has grown rapidly in France and in Europe over the years by fine-tuning as needed, like using French cheeses, mustards and meats; preserving local architecture in some of its showcase stores; and more recently, creating a cafe area in some locations to accommodate coffee-sipping patrons.
But especially interesting to me are cultural observations of what works and what doesn’t. For example:
In London, an experiment is under way to take customers’ names with their orders and then address them by name when filling it. Participating patrons get a free coffee, but many others have lit up Twitter with complaints about bogus, American-style chumminess.
Sure, Starbucks baristas have many a time mangled names so easy monkeys could spell them. But hey, what’s wrong with wanting to know someone’s name?
Darn that “bogus American-style chumminess!”