Monday, March 12, 2007

Starbucks Coffee Break



The Love/Respect Axis pictured above is the centerpiece of Lovemarks and it shows that the only place to be is in the top right-hand quadrant. That’s where Lovemarks are - the brands people can’t live without. No one wants to be in the bottom left-hand quadrant with commodities. So when Howard Schultz of Starbucks sent an internal memo to senior managers suggesting that Starbucks was in danger of becoming a commodity, all hell let loose when the memo went public. Everyone had an opinion and the stock went down but for Howard to sound the alarm was a very gutsy move. I talked to Starbucks in Seattle last year and I was deeply impressed by how close they are to living the Lovemarks life. At a time when the company has ambitious growth plans, Howard's message to his people is simple: we can’t take love for granted. And he gives some fantastic specifics that have Lovemarks all over them. Take the efficient, hygienic flavor-locked packaging. The problem? This packaging inhibits customers from truly living in Starbucks' Third Place because they can't smell the coffee. Gone is an important dimension of sensuality from the store. Another example is the question mark over the introduction of automatic espresso machines. Howard suggests they are removing the craft of the baristas, and undermining their personal relationships with regular customers. Mystery, Sensuality and Intimacy have to flourish if you’re going to stay a Lovemark. Howard Schultz knows that and he’s showing his people what matters most to every winning business: keep the love alive.