History & Marketing Strategies of Starbucks Coffee

Company Name – Starbucks Corporation
Founder – Gordon Bowker, Zev Siegl, Jerry Baldwin

Starbucks is the third largest fast food restaurant outlet on the basis of the number of stores it has across the globe. The present CEO of the company is Kevin Johnson. Headquartered in Seattle, Washington, Starbucks is a coffee company which runs a huge chain of coffee houses across the globe.

The company offers a wide range of hand-made roasted coffee and pertaining beverages such as Frappuccino, fresh juice, pastries, chips etc.  As of 2018, Starbucks operates in 28,218 locations across the globe.

How It All Started

Starbucks Corporation, an American coffee company which was founded on 31st of March 1917 in Washington by three friends who studied together in the San Francisco University. The name Starbucks was finalized after many brainstorming session; however, finally, the name was derived from a character of a book.

Initially, the company only sold roasted coffee beans and did not start to sell brewed coffee. The company ordered green coffee bean from a firm named Peet’s which was later bought by Jerry Baldwin back in 1984. Throughout the era of the 80s, the overall purchase of normal coffee reduced in the market. However, the demand for specialty coffee increased which capture 10% of the entire market. By the end of 1986, the original owners started selling brewed coffee to its customer and had opened a total of six stores across Seattle.

Later in 1987, the original owner of Starbucks sold the company to Howard Schultz, one of its former managers. The new owner than rebranded its own coffee company as Starbucks and with this, the company stepped the first ladder towards expansion. Within that year itself, Starbucks opened two outlets outside Seattle and by 1989; around 46 outlets were standing strong across the Midwest and Northwest. Then, it continued setting a new milestone with every passing year.


Have acquired the North American market, in 1996, Starbucks took a huge step to enter in Tokyo, Japan. Then by end of the next year, the Philippines had become the third market to Starbuck to open their outlet outside North America. The company then entered the United Kingdom in the year 1998 and had acquired 56 outlets when Seattle Coffee Company, a UK- based company rebranded all of its outlets with Starbucks.

In 1999, the company experimented with eateries through a chain of restaurants called Circadia, based in San Francisco Bay. The experiment was successful with the restaurant and the restaurant chain was run by the name of Starbucks. 

With every passing year, it opened a store in different cities, countries, and continents with distinctive products. Later in 2007, Starbucks was supposed to launch its first store in India; however, the idea was withdrawn without stating any valid reasons.

Then in January 2012, Starbucks collaborated with the largest Asian coffee plantation, TATA Coffee and opened its first outlet in Mumbai. The duo announced 50:50 share of their joint venture. Since then TATA Starbucks owns and operates all the Starbuck outlets scattered across different states of India.

Marketing Strategy of Starbucks and Interesting Reason behind its success

Premium Quality Product

One of the key marketing strategies of Starbucks lies within the product it offers which the belief of offering distinctive premium quality coffee which will stand apart from its peers. The company has always intended to offer a unique but superior quality product which resulted in customer loyalty and high level of exposure and popularity.  


The brand targets those people of upper to mediocre economic strata. People who wish to have premium quality coffee in a warming ambiance with the fragrance of freshly roasted coffee. These people are high earning professional, business owners etc. who value quality and luxury. Starbucks targeted to provide an astonishing environment with high-quality coffee and beverages.


The company has positioned itself not only among the supreme coffee maker but among the segment of luxury oriented people. The company is rest assured about the quality of its coffee, thus, their focus centralizes on providing excellent customer support for their premium guests.

Brand Merchandising

Brand merchandising is one of the important marketing tactics that indirectly gain consumer loyalty as well as customer satisfaction. The brand logo is imprinted on all its merchandises such as cups, tumblers, packaging etc. Starbucks was never into traditional marketing; however, it has adopted unconventional methods of marketing its brand and offerings. 

Ethical branding

One of the effective strategies of indirect marketing is to be an ethical brand. Starbucks has always represented itself as a trustable brand. It focuses on long term marketing with premium products, customer orientation. The quality of their product it what makes people spend an uncomfortable amount of money for their products. This is only possible because of Ethical branding.

Advertisement Investment

Starbucks is known to grow to grow without the help of the conventional sources of marketing such as Newspaper or TV ads. All of its achievements were the results of their high-quality coffee and brand. However, recently they have come to market their brand across all the platforms but mostly on the digital media such as TV and social media.


Starbucks Campaign 

Not being very famous for its marketing, Starbucks launched many campaigns on social media, few of which are mentioned below:


  • #Theredcupcontest

The company launched its campaign just before the arrival of Christmas without caring about the hype and controversy. Its campaign was launched on Instagram asking people to post their red cup pictures and use tag #redcupcontest. Within two days of the launch, there were around 40,000 entries for the contest. 

  • Tweet-a-coffee

‘Tweet-a-coffee’ was launched on Twitter where people could gift $5 card to one of their friends by just adding their friend’s user id and of course the tag @tweetafriend. Within a period of two months, 27,000+ users had tweeted and this particular campaign brought a sum close to $180,000 price of coffee.


  • Meet me at Starbucks

Cafés and coffees are the best elements for meetups and dates. With this ideology, Starbucks launched the social media campaign ‘Meet me at Starbucks’ in 2014. Starbucks offered free coffee for an entire year for the winners their #HowWeMet stories. Many people across the globe had participated in the same and it resulted in higher brand awareness and customer loyalty. 



Whenever it comes to the best coffee with various fusions of flavors, Starbucks has been a renowned brand not only among its peers but also the people who have tasted its delicious coffee. It has acquired the position in the market because of its premium quality coffee, which is hard to deny!

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