Their stock has been slumping for over a year now, and Howard Schultz has had enough. He recently took back the CEO position at Starbucks, and pledged to make changes that would bring about the return of the Starbucks experience. Yesterday at the company’s annual shareholders meeting, he delivered:
“Eleven weeks ago, I made a personal commitment to every one of our customers and partners (employees) to reaffirm our place as the world’s coffee authority,” said Schultz. “By embracing our heritage, returning to our core — all things coffee — and our relentless commitment to innovation, we will reignite the emotional connection we have with our customers and transform the Starbucks Experience.”
Here’s what they announced:
- Starbucks has purchased The Coffee Equipment Company, who makes the Clover machine. Some stores in Seattle and Boston already use the Clover. This acquisition means the Clover is coming to a coffee shop near you!
- A new “everyday” blend of drip coffee called Pike Place Roast. Currently, the drip coffee available rotates.
- Another new espresso machine, called the Mastrena. The existing Verisimo machines are also getting upgraded in the U.S. and Canada.
- An online community: mystarbucksidea.com.
- Rewards for Starbucks Card holders! Starting in April, card holders in the U.S. and Canada will receive complimentary customization on syrups and milk, free refills on brewed coffee during the same visit, a complimentary Tall beverage when you buy a pound of coffee, and two hours per day of free Wi-Fi.
Of course, the free Wi-Fi initiative was actually announced last month. I checked out the new community, and it seems like an attempt to offer a company-sanctioned outlet for discussion that already happens at places like the Starbucks Gossip blog. The rewards program is somewhat disappointing, but it’s only the first phase apparently.
I am looking forward to the new drip blend, and the Clover! Here’s what the co-founder of Coffee Equipment Co. had to say:
Having his company bought by Starbucks Corp. wasn’t his initial plan, but it became “a dream come true” for Zander Nosler, who co-founded Ballard’s The Coffee Equipment Co. in May 2004.
“We’re ecstatic,” said Nosler, 36. “There will be amazing opportunities, amazing resources to turn up the heat on making some new products and doing R&D.”
Apparently the acquisition announcement pleased shareholders more than anything else. I can’t say I’m surprised! I wonder how all the little independent coffee shops that used the Clover as a point of differentiation are taking the news.
Time will tell if these announcements actually do “transform the Starbucks Experience,” but I think the Clover purchase was really smart regardless.
PS. If the title of this post doesn’t make sense to you, read this article at Wikipedia.