Starbucks’ recent performance has been very strong, but that hasn’t prevented the company from seeing the writing on the wall. Scores of super-premium, third-wave coffee competitors are rising up in all of the most important developed markets. To keep them at bay, Starbucks is taking consistent steps toward staying ahead of evolving consumer preferences.
In its most recent move, Starbucks has added a subscription-based service for its small-lot Reserve brand coffee, promising delivery of the rare beans within days of roasting at its new Seattle Roastery and Tasting Room. In one fell swoop, the service provides a small but stable revenue stream, solves a distribution issue, and most importantly, helps to cement Starbucks’ new branding as a purveyor of third-wave coffee—offering the quality of coffee typically found at an independent coffee shop, with the benefits and services of a massive global chain.