Italian baristas, smile: you are already in the future (if you want to be)

by Carlo Odello *

A flash of lightning across the serene sky of the American coffee scene: Starbucks, the giant of the 16,000 cafes scattered between the four corners of the earth, gambles its name.  As Jason Daley’s optimal article for Entrepreneur Magazine reports, this summer the colossus from Seattle opened a new cafe.  However, it was not called Starbucks; instead, they named it, "15th Ave Coffee and Tea," decorated in a completely different style and operated by a completely different mindset than the traditional cafes.

Why would an international chain whose very trademark became its driving force, a shamelessly global business that serialized the cafe concept, suddenly try to play it local?  One simple motive: it needs to return to the community and connect to its territories to make the consumer perceive it in a different way.  It is no longer the great homogenous chain, the coffee empire over which the sun will never set; instead, it is becoming a social place in service of the community.

The good news for Italian baristas: you are ahead of Starbucks. You are already local, you already serve your communities, you are already part of the social fabric; more accurately, you help build it.  Besides, the Seattle colossus admitted it: Italy is a difficult market, with a capillaceous presence, rooted and diffused in its tens of thousands of cafes.  Frankly put: a nightmare for the commercial logic of Starbucks.

The bad news for the Italian baristas: you are behind Starbucks.  Most of you do not do any marketing whatsoever.  The overwhelming majority of your cafes all look the same: even though they are not part of any chain, they are still characterized by that conformity typical of franchises, almost always offering the same banal and homologous products.  And yet, one could do so much more with very little: in addition to paying closer attention to the coffee, which wouldn’t hurt anyone, why not start thinking of ways to make these cafes truly unique?

Dear Italian baristas, take from Starbucks a different way of marketing. You have the advantage of being local, something for which the American giant now aspires. One step further and you will be in the future.

* Trainer and member of the board of the International Institute of Coffee Tasters

Costa Coffee opens its 1,000th store in Moscow

Costa and OJSC Rosinter Restaurants Holding “Rosinter” have opened today Costa’s 1,000th store in Moscow’s Pushkin Square. The opening of this store marks the arrival of Costa Coffee in Russia.
Costa is the UK’s largest and fastest growing coffee shop chain and plans to open its 700th milestone UK store next month. It now operates over 300 stores overseas in 22 countries (Europe, the Middle East, China and India). Rosinter is the leading casual dining restaurant chain in Russia and CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States), operating 216 restaurants in 8 countries and 24 cities. The new joint venture, formed in December 2007, plans to open 200 Costa stores in Russia over the next 5 years, focusing on Moscow and St Petersburg in its first year, then expanding to other Russian regions thereafter. The partners’ initial investment is approximately 10 million dollars USA and they also intend to open Costa stores in Ukraine and Belarus at a later date. After the first opening, 11 coffee shops currently operated by Rosinter under its proprietary brand Moka Loka will be converted to the Costa brand.
Over 50% of the 11 million people in Moscow visit coffee shops regularly and to date. There is a wealthy demographic of young Russians whose average income is growing by 16% per annum. Increasingly, they are spending a higher proportion of their disposable income in coffee shops.

(Carlo Odello)