Now that the excitement about Starbucks entering India is settled, maybe it’s time we took a look at Starbucks’ frame of mind at this point. We are a huge nation and one half of us love coffee, the other lives for tea. We will spend a lot of money on new brands, but most of them remain fads. We do spend quite some time and money in cafes, but these cafes are never a substitute for the morning dosage of filter kaapi for the coffee lovers among us.
So, how nervous should Starbucks be before they take a step into this diversity?
The Starbucks way
Starbucks core value is in giving you that perfectly brewed coffee every morning specially designed for you to take it away and begin the day on an awesome note. The ingenuity in this proposition is that it induces a whole step in your daily routine, making it a habit. But, are we ready for this?
Most of us begin our day with a cuppa freshly brewed at home. If we can pick up a coffee to go, would we want to skip the effort in brewing at home? No doubt, there is a huge opportunity in being a first mover and redefining behavior pattern. Much like what Dominos did to all of us. Pizza shifted from an occasional outing to anytime at home. But, pizza at home is an option open to us, while Starbucks aims to take it further and shift our habit. Are we open to this?
The Indian audience
We love our coffee. And, we love cool new brands. Starbucks is a gold mine for us and we will all get our coffee in hordes. There will a barrage of pictures uploaded on facebook with a Starbucks cup on the desks at work. But how long will this love affair last?
We don’t know how long this will interest us. Usually, most of us wake up every morning and prefer our coffee with the newspaper. That’s a ritual. The key question is how much of an effort will I make to travel to Starbucks every morning and pick up my coffee before I reach work. Or will it just be a weekend habit for me?
Coffee and conversations
Starbucks is a coffee brand that does not live on conversations. No, they don’t want you to stick around forever with a whole bunch of friends. And free wi fi does not mean live stream movies with others either.
Generally, not many of us like to spend time alone. We like our crowds. So, will this offering benefit us? Should Starbucks also enter the coffee and conversation pattern? My sense is no. Why shift the value proposition of the brand which has been successful world over?
Would this model of Starbucks work better if set up in the corporate area? With heavy real estate cost in Mumbai, maybe an outlet in Nariman Point would be an option for volume sale.
They may retail better as a kiosk in the many IT parks. But even if they do go ahead in this space, people will then have to pick between a Starbucks and a CCD cappuccino. At some point, this decision will be governed by the cost if it is an everyday pattern.
Of course the one flagship outlet in a Bandra/Koramangala-like environment is necessary. But volumes may not be comparable to the usual Starbucks pick and go model.
What do you think?