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Starbucks Grocery Stores Coming Soon?

04/30/2012

Kid. Cup of Joe. Good to Go!

Starbucks, the company formerly known as Starbucks Coffee, is about to be a brand you’ll see in great depth in groceries, convenience stores and mass merchants.

The premise was introduced here at Thought-Tech On The Horizon last September in a post “Starbucks Eyes Grocery Stores As Next Frontier“. At that time I predicted the Company’s spend of $9 million on R&D in 2010 for new food, drinks and equipment had to be leading to more than the launch of Blonde.

Starbucks 1Q Earnings call on January 26, 2012 was revealing when CEO Howard Schultz stated, “The Starbucks’ blueprint for growth is proving to be a differentiated and unique approach that allows us to integrate and build off of our global retail footprint, our deep and unique connection with our customers and our rapidly expanding CPG business. While some companies may be able to execute some portions of this strategy, we strongly believe that Starbucks is the only company in the world with a global footprint of company-owned and operated stores, a growing CPG business, best-in-class social and digital media assets, a cutting-edge experience with mobile payment and millions of registered Starbucks cardholders as part of our loyalty program.”

When Schultz inventories Starbucks assets as he did in the statement above one gets a big picture perspective on multiple dimensions of Starbucks today. While the “CPG business” is definitely early stage, Schultz’s identification of social/digital media assets, the mobile payment system (which I use and love!), and the loyalty program are significant as the foundation of a brand reaching into new territories.

In a lively discussion with Brandon Scholz, CEO of the Wisconsin Grocers Association, I asserted that within 5 years Starbucks would “own” entire aisles or sections of various grocery stores. While he didn’t completely disagree Scholz sees logistical impediments…as he should. He’s an operational guy. Our discussion ended with a wager.

I can’t wait to upload my winnings from our bet to my Starbucks Gold Card.

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