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Starbucks Mission Statement: How Howard Schultz, the Starbucks Founder, Made a Global Business


If you look at the Starbucks mission statement, it isn’t just a great piece of motivational prose.

But it is also a wonderful example of strategic management.

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Well, we all know the story of how this coffee major made the journey from humble beginnings in Seattle to now a global presence.

But even if you did not know a bit of this long saga, just reading the mission statement,

“To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time”

is often enough.

You can almost smell your brew stronger, enjoy your camaraderie with the cozy comfort of a great cup of coffee and see how minutely they planned their expansion moving one neighborhood at a time.

Perhaps you can also refer to this statement as an ideal answer to whats a mission statement is.

Indeed in just two line simple statement, it tells you who they are, what they do and how they go about doing their business.

All you need to do is just read it, and it tells you a lot about their customer focus, people centric business model and a deep insight into customer preference.

Surprisingly the Starbucks mission statement is also a brilliant piece of man-management and throws interesting insights into the overall brand positioning.

It emphasizes their strong leadership abilities and gives a fair idea of how the future is expected to pan out.

Overall it is almost like a document of intent that outlines the growth strategy of a company in details.

In many ways, this is almost an open letter to customers and employees about the prospects as well as plans.

The biggest benefit is no doubt it cuts the whole extent of ambiguity in the entire game plan.

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The Starbucks Mission Statement: Reading through Fine Print

Starbucks Mission Statement

A closer analysis of the Starbucks mission statement will tell you that they have worded this mission very carefully not just to make it catchy but very comprehensive.

The company manages to keep the warm cozy feel to it, pretty much what you feel sitting inside a Starbucks store and sipping your favorite brew.

It is almost needless to mention that though this mission statement does not conform to a traditional concept, it sure serves the purpose.

Traditionally a mission statement should confirm to a basic format that answers at least some specific details like

  • The key produce- coffee in this case
  • The key stakeholders- the partners running business
  • The target customers
  • The target location

Probably in terms of these details you get close to nothing in the Starbucks mission statement.

But one simple fact that you won’t be able to deny is that it instantly touches that special chord in your heart pretty much like a warm delectable and aromatic cup of coffee.

Detailing in the Mission Statement

Starbucks Vision and Mission Statements

It inspires and nurtures the free moving spirit be it the customer who is buying it or the employee who is serving it.

They all become united in their common love for coffee.

In keeping it simple, the company also confirms to the small firm culture that is so special to Starbucks and one of the most identifiable elements about their way of doing business.

They are approachable, just in the neighborhood and a cup of coffee away.

That is Starbucks for you, and that is the Starbucks mission statement too.

In many ways, this is also a conscious effort in creating a strong and sustainable brand to nurture long standing and well defined relationships.

This is why most Starbucks customers are loyal coffee drinkers who do not mind going the extra mile to get their favorite brew from their favorite store.

Starbucks has clearly worked towards creating that kind of rapport is amply borne out in the Starbucks mission statement.

In fact, the ‘one person, one cup and one neighbor at a time’ element highlights how the firm is so deeply into creating relationships on a one on one basis be it with the customers or the employees.

They are not in a hurry to make it big; they are progressing one neighborhood at a time and following the ‘tortoise strategy’ for sealing long-term growth opportunities.

The gradual growth in business will ensure that the firm is not over leveraged at any point and is better geared to take on the challenges that might spring up suddenly.

In this context, it becomes a particularly meaningful statement.

The Overall Drive and Focus

Therefore, the Starbucks mission statement also confirms another key fact that you can make it big even by experimenting as long as the overall drive and focus remain intact.

Whether you believe it or not but the Starbucks growth pace will convince you that their pace of growth is in sync with the company’s outlook.

Overall the Starbucks mission statement has a very subtle and assertive undertone.

The company manages to keep it warm and engaging without unnecessarily tinkering with the broad structure of the statement.

Perhaps it is just one-tenth the size of the latest Apple mission statement.

However, in many ways, it conveys the same type of passion, commitment and drive that you experience when you read through Apple’s almost a paragraph long statement.

Apple’s statement outlines the same commitment that the ‘one person, one cup’ analogy brings forth in the case of the Starbucks statement.

Therefore we can conclude that the Starbucks mission statement is a balanced and well thought out piece of prose.

It breaks all traditional concepts of writing a mission statement but does in no way break the purpose for which it is being written.

It is catchy, hard hitting and creates that instant connection, which is essential for creating a meaningful brand recall element.

After all, you must understand that the biggest connect that the Starbucks mission statement manages to establish is the human connect, the joy of coming back to your favorite corner, your favorite brew and knowing someone who would always greet you with a smiling face when you place the order.

It is this human connection that the Starbucks manages to bring out with aplomb and score above many peers.

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