Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Starbucks Evolution from a U.S. to Global Company

Normally I focus my articles on marketing ideas and case studies but today's post is a little different. I'm a big fan of Starbucks, not only because it's such an iconic and successful brand but because I have a personal interest (ok, I did spend 12+ years of my life contributing to its success around the world in various brand & marketing leadership roles). Oh and I do have a little stock - full disclosure :)

So what are they up to and why am I excited?

Starbucks announced a number of strategic changes this week that will continue to position the company for strong growth. All of these, in my opinion, are really smart changes.

The most important change is in the underpinnings of the company– a leadership restructuring that signals the move from Starbucks operating as a U.S. company doing business internationally, to Starbucks becoming a truly global company. This is good news for the brand and business.

The company will be divided into 3 regions – The Americas, EMEA and Asia Pacific/China. This is a big shift from the prior model which was split in two - a U.S. Division and the rest of the world under SCI (Starbucks Coffee International) . Leading each of the new divisions are familiar faces:
  • The Americas: Cliff Burrows (President U.S. and former President UK - a dynamic operations leader, motivating leader and storyteller)
  • EMEA: Michelle Gass (President Seattle's Best and former head of marketing/category as well as global strategy - super smart, long time trusted leader and confidante of H. Schultz who grew up in Starbucks - also has an engineering background and P&G pedigree)
  • APAC: John Culver (President SCI, former head of Food Service - smart business leader, highly personable and great team leader)
These changes will help Starbucks build global consistency while balancing local relevance. The new structure will also bring more focus and improve the leadership's ability to leverage regional opportunities.

In addition, the structural changes include additional responsibilities for Annie Young-Scrivner, CMO. She has a CPG background (PepsiCo) and loads of international experience and while fairly new to Starbucks ( Sept 2009) has made impact. Annie will now take on the leadership of Tazo Tea. Since Starbucks acquired Tazo in 1999, this little gem of a brand has been under-leveraged so it will be interesting to see what innovation comes out of the tea business with Annie at the helm.

The other change is the addition of Seattle's Best Coffee to Jeff Hansberry's portfolio which currently includes CPG and Food Service. While I don't know much about Jeff, I hear positive things from ex-colleagues who work in his group. He's also a relative newcomer to Starbucks joining the company in June 2010.

All in all, smart and strategic changes that will see the continued success of Starbucks, a brand that is barely tapping it's opportunitites in the rest of the world.

I'm excited! What are your thoughts?

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