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Recently, a group of British MPs has accused Starbucks, Amazon and Google of leaking the UK tax revenue to tax havens outside the UK, labeling their behavior as an “immoral act”.  Among the three, it has been revealed that Starbucks has evaded corporate tax in the UK for the last three years. For the last 14 years, the coffee chain international company has only paid US$10.8 million to the United Kingdom government (Charles & Farey). Furthermore, it has been disclosed that Starbucks has signed an underground deal to pay the discounted tax rate in Netherlands.  Starbucks has maintained its headquarters in Amsterdam, though only 220 employees are based there, compared to 6500 based in the UK, which has poised a question on where exactly the main economic activities of Starbucks Company are concentrated. How the tax avoidance has affected Starbucks’ marketing, and its reputation to customers is a significant subject to be observed.

Firstly, Starbucks Company’s initial product, when the company started, used to be roasted coffee. From roasted coffee the company has grown; now it produces a wide variety of products. Starbucks produces the regular coffee beverages and also decaffeinated coffee. Espresso Italian drink is produced in a wide variety.  Coffees, which are roasted freshly and are whole-bean, can be offered to the customers. These whole fresh beans are grounded in the company, and the customers carry it in the distinctive packets home. Customers can also select fresh pastries and teas, juices, sodas and coffee equipment, and hardware in the Starbucks Company. 

Starbucks’ marketing has been a success, due to the socializing with the networking. This includes business talkers and the ones who visit the Starbucks marketing outlets. The market strategy is aimed at influencing enterprises, both the small and large ones, and saturating the market. The market outlets of Starbucks usually have the Wi-Fi connections, music, and book events, demonstrating the user-friendly attitude. The company has various marketing goals. The main market goal is to produce products which are affordable. This will increase the sales, since people will always demand products which are affordable. Starbucks Company made a policy that the weekly increases in the marketing activities need to be $20000 (Gilbert 3).

Ensuring that the customers know the company’s location, and the prices of the products are customer-friendly is the other marketing mix strategy. Here the company needs to have a constant location and make the customers aware of the business location. The common locations of Starbucks are in Canada, USA, and the UK. Other locations are found worldwide in 50 countries, and the products of Starbucks can be located in licensed stores worldwide (Gilbert 2008).

Starbucks’ marketing department has put a lot of consideration on the competitors. The competition that Starbucks faces includes local companies, McDonald’s, Dunkin Donuts, Costa, Einstein Bagels, 7-Eleven, Panera Bread, and Biggy coffee companies. Starbucks together with the competitors are in a competition of wining the market. Marketing strategy over the competitors includes knowing their strengths. Competitors’ strengths are issue involving how they treat their customers, the best used outlets, employees behaviors, and the location of their licensed markets and stores. There is a need to know how they treat the customers through the shop services, promotions, and even the atmosphere in the shops. The marketing of the Starbucks needs to know the company’s weaknesses. The weaknesses of the company help in the marketing, since issues that need to be addressed are known. A lot of attention needs to be paid to improve the company’s weaknesses (Pham-Gia 20).

Satisfaction of the customers is another achievement of Starbucks Company. The satisfaction has greatly increased, as their brands have a community around them. This community is created by the company allowing customers to express their feelings towards the services from the past to the present. The market of Starbucks has been able to show a smart partnership with other companies. The Company clearly demonstrates that smart partnership serves in bringing success to the business. Sales in the company are able to be increased through the smart partnership  with other companies. The market of the company is always working on new creative ideas and innovation over the company’s products. These new innovations are aimed at improving the quality of brand Starbucks is producing. Starbucks was the first company to offer Internet competence to the coffee stores. The market has the tradition of brand marketing using the speech. The company brands are advertised over the high quality they have and their location.

Starbucks has become a success franchise because the company has a consistent branding. In every communication the company makes, a specific brand is usually communicated. The company maintains a constant logo, familiar feel, and look of the coffee stores presences and storefront. Worldwide, the company has been able to maintain a constant look on their coffee served.       They have made their customers able to see the refreshment shop via seeing the logo and the outstanding coffee cup. The distinctive coffee cup of the company serves as a consistent brand. The company has become a success through the involvement in the web. Customers from different location in the globe when accessing Internet are be able to get full information about the company. Starbucks has constant connection with the web hub (Pham-Gia 2009).

The company achievements, rewards, services, products, and brands can be easily accessed in Internet. The web helps Starbucks to make international customers aware of the company. In Internet, promotion and marketing activities of the company are achieved. The use of the web video has made the company successful, since ordinary customers are aware of masterfully information. These web videos help Starbucks in passing brand information to the customers. Starbucks’ success is integrating across the different channels. Company contents are intergraded by the use of channels like telephone, Internet, and mail. The information in the message contains appropriate visual information, and gives information about the products produced. The email messages are focused on informing and educating on the products and not on promotion (Bussing-Burks 3)

Channels of social media have brought success to the Starbucks Company. A lot of customers follow the Company in twitter and Facebook. Social participation of the company has helped the company to be able to acquire identification as a brand. Information over launching a new product, price changes, promotion, and even daily activities of the company can be passed in these social media. The rewards from the company are delivered through the direct mail channel.

Starbucks is the leading company which uses the mobile experience. The use of mobile experience gives the product a complete sense. Customers who have smartphones can be able to see their products at the basic level. The mobile experience makes information consumption at the basic level effective through communication using email. Customers at a go can view all their email information via the mobile phone. Starbucks’ success has been aided by the company, ensuring that there is an easy way of sharing content. Best practice employed by the company encourages customers and employees to share contents. The sharing channel in Starbucks is simple and easy. Customers’ complains, experiences, and acknowledgments are communicated to the company. The employees are able to participate and advise management, since they are in the performance department (Pham-Gia 2009).

The effective marketing strategies employed by Starbucks have made the company grow internationally, and caused an enormous growth in its customer’s base. Customers have received great satisfaction from the brands produced by the company. However, the tax controversy involving Starbucks has, according to a research conducted by marketing group, resulted in consumer brand's satisfaction score plunging. The research was an in-depth study that attempted to track various consumer sentiments across the social media and other online sites towards Starbucks coffee chain market over the last four months. The study found that the company’s brand popularity fell drastically from mid-October, following the revelations that had evaded paying the UK corporate tax for the last year. More negative satisfaction score was indicated when the Starbucks’ Chief Financial Officer, Troy Alstead appeared alongside the representatives from Google and Amazon at a Select Committee of the House of Commons earlier this month. Though Starbucks continues to attract many followers on twitter and Facebook, negative conversation regarding the company has increased significantly with over 95% of comments from consumers referring to the tax issue.

This negative news emerged amid Starbucks arch-rival Costa, planning a response to the company deteriorating the brand reputation, mainly considering marketing its products with the notion of it being the business that “does the moral thing” in the UK. Now the company has denied the tax allegation laid upon them, with Alstead, the Brand’s Finance Chief, claiming the company has been making no significant money in Britain, yet it vows to pay more taxes to the UK, once its business becomes more profitable. A spokesman from the company, in defense of the allegation, told reports that, though the subject of tax payment policy is complex, Starbucks complies and respects accounting rules and tax laws in each of the 61 countries where they do their operations, which includes the UK. The company is committed to the UK market for a long term.

The economic impact of Starbucks on the United Kingdom spans far beyond the stores and employees partners. They spend millions of pounds on local supplies of cakes, milk, and sandwiches, including the store designs and renovations. Considering the indirect employment that Starbucks investment in the UK has created, the extended economic impact of Starbuck on the UK goes beyond £80m annually. Thus, it is important for the UK government to consider the well-being of the company’s employees, consumers, and the value it adds to the UK economy, apprenticeships, creating jobs, and payment of their fair tax to the UK government.

In conclusion, Starbucks’ marketing strategies, especially through social media and other sites, have contributed to the growth and dominance of the company worldwide. Social participation through social media, such as twitter and Facebook, has helped the company to be able to acquire identification as a brand. Starbucks has become a success franchise because it has a consistent branding. However, the tax controversy has reduced the consumer’s satisfaction score, and the company needs to do something to resolve the bad reputation. The agreement by the company to review their tax arrangement in the UK, following much criticism over its leaking UK tax revenue to tax havens outside the UK, is a positive step towards resurgence and to the cleanse of the bad reputation. Starbucks should listen to their employees and customers, and realize that to maintain and build further their public trust, they need to do more in terms of marketing strategy and tax approach to the UK.

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