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Starbucks: Sustainability is the Solution sample essay


Prior to delving into why sustainability is vital for Starbucks, we need to take a in-depth look at how Starbuck’s organizational design and culture fosters the need for sustainability. Starbucks culture and mission statement steadfastly iterates that “people first and profits last” is what it firmly stands behind. This statement[1] reflects that it desires to provide a great work environment in which they “treat each other with respond and dignity”1 no matter what. This awareness of social dignity has also lead Starbucks to consider the vitality of sustainability and how their stewardship of this practice ultimately dictates how successful they will continue to be.

Heart and Soul of Starbucks: A Probing Look At the Company

To understand Starbucks is to respect Starbuck’s drive to provide quality of its product to its consumers. This firm started under the leadership of three men, Gordon Bowker, Jerry Baldwin, and Zev Siegl, who sought to share their love of high quality coffee and teas with Seattle. The love of providing Seattle with access to top quality coffee beans, progressed to a love of bringing and “re-creating the magic and romance behind the Italian coffee bar culture by serving espresso by the cup.”2 As consumers are turned on by all things romantic and new, the expresso drink became a big hit. At this time, the owners felt that they did not need to continue expansion into other stores of the expresso idea because it distracted from the core business of selling top quality beans.

This focus on retaining the company mission and not expanding into a more beverage arena is truly respectful. It shows that the company and its leadership were adamant about continuing to pursue their true love of quality coffee beans versus profit. They insisted that “quality coffee using a custom-made espresso roast from Starbucks beans” was the main focus of the company and any organizational or operational endeavors take that into consideration.[2]

This strategy recreates a love for quality beans and an understanding that consumers will back company which stand behind quality. Empowered to stick behind this trademark feature, the company opened 125 branches within 5 years. By 1991, Starbucks had undertakings into the mail-order catalogue business, and managed to license the company in airport stores. A big retail store hit, the company decided that its business plan would enable it to go public by 1992.

Starbucks successfully initiated several thriving product and brand additions, while maintaining its brand name. These products included offering coffee on United Airlines flights and the development of a bottled version of its trendy Frappuccino blended beverage with PepsiCo so consumers could purchase them while grocery shopping. Obviously, Starbucks is rocking and rolling with modern and global consumers.

With this successful and exponential growth in mind it is essential Starbuck’s contributions to society and its impact on the future of sustainability. We will be evaluating at this point the design criteria and how sustainability needs to be embedded into proposed plans.

Creating A Design Criteria for Starbucks: Why?

Of foremost importance to Starbucks is its continued efforts to remain a responsible corporation. The company does not take this responsibility to society, the environment, and its consumers lightly. This commitment is not only because it is the right thing to do but also because people are cognizant that global environmental and poverty issues affect everyone. 4 Its design criteria would take into consideration all aspects of modernization, resources already at hand, and economic development. For its development to be consistent Starbucks needs to reuse its brand name and reputation within other communities; but not misuse it.

In due diligence, Starbucks not only sustains its businesses in global locations but also takes part in supporting causes in those communities. Its contributions ranged from donating to local causes to aiding in literacy crisis in producing and developing countries.5 Part of the design criteria will need to evaluate how its contribution are affecting other countries. It needs to be restructuring its corporate culture to contain more cultural coffee beverages or cultural specialized blends . Beginning in 1991, Starbucks began donating to CARE, a worldwide relief and development foundation, as “a means to give back to coffee-origin countries.”

6 Those donations aided producing and developing countries with essential community projects like recycling, clean-water systems, health and sanitation training, and literacy efforts. Starbucks needs to emphasis via new marketing strategies that its design criteria is centered around societal obligations. As its reputation is more word of month, not many people are as aware of its contributions in the United States as in Mexico. Over the last ten years Starbucks has contributed more than $1.8 million to CARE in its determined efforts to remain a responsible corporation. Part of the company’s design criteria is to continue having a hand in local communities, and retaining a positive reputation. 7

Communities that see Starbucks as a member of society versus a corporation profiting at the expense of their society will encourage Starbucks growth in their community. Coffee bean farmers have also received loans from the firm which helped the Mexican environment and its farmers. This aid “increased shade acreage increased by 220% while farmers received a price premium of 65% above the market price and increased exports by 50%.

”Overall, farmers then experienced an increase in their income, which allowed them to spend more in the economy; thus, keeping an economic balance and reviving interest in high quality coffee beans. As a specialty retailer, Starbucks has received negative feedback about costs of its coffees and how selective they are in their coffee beans. Hence, they need to rectify this opinion by advertising that they believe in high quality coffees. So part of this design requirement will be to market itself as willing to accept negative feedback and criticism. Therefore, it can make necessary adjustments as needed.

Because the world is full of corporations fixing to make a profit and often ignoring its ethical responsibility to society, Starbucks is a role model in its efforts to create a consistent design process. 8The design criteria that Starbucks needs to use includes adapting itself to a changing environment while retaining its dynamic capabilities. The firm needs to continuously integrate, reconfigure, and build up both its internal as well as external competences. Its strengths lie in its ability to address changes within the various communities it resides in.

Part of its design criteria should focus more on modernizing the interior and exterior of its stores. It might be wise to have wireless internet or hookups, and plasma TVs which entertain customers in the early mornings or during lunch breaks. Paper recycling bins should be placed in the facilities so that discarded cups and papers can be taken to a recycling facility. Its cups should also have a recycling logo to motivate consumers to recycle or it should focus on reusable coffee cups. 9 Furthermore, as it is already selling music cds it might focus on downloads on site for ipods. Because the majority of its clientele visit during mornings there should be an assortment of breakfast items like Panera’s.

In order to proceed with redesigning itself, Starbucks needs to research trends, environmental changes, and consumer interest shifts. This research will aid them in reevaluating the priority of remaining cost efficient and profitable while producing coffee at low cost to consumers. This design criteria has focused on environmentally friendly measures which supported recycling and energy conservations. These initiatives have been visible since Starbucks’ inception and continue to this day.

These business practices have aided its public image, and lead to more positive publicity from younger consumers. Starbucks was selected as my case study because it has an aptitude for change, and an awareness already of its key role in society. It has truly taken ownership of its responsibility towards society.

Embedding Sustainability into Starbuck’s Design and Business:

The essence of sustainability lies in preserving the “quality of life” for later generations. To embed sustainability into Starbuck’s overall design and business we need to understand the various elements and fundamentals associated with it. In comprehending inter-generational equity, Starbucks needs to realistically and conceptually consider if it is part of a constant utility and if its natural capital or GDP is remaining consistent. In order to see this, the firm needs to investigate its affect on the marketplace and project what impact it will have over the scope of upcoming decades. One explicit area of concern is how to measure sustainability. One article iterated that it could be considered a benefit or ideal end goal represented by the equation below: 10

Ideality = (Perceived) Benefits / (Cost + Harm)

Starbucks needs to make sure that its decision making process takes into consideration its current and dynamic policy making options. This would include knowing what perceived benefits are and how to progress to making sustainable decisions. To do this, it must identify any harmful environmental policies that it is partaking in and rectify those dilemmas. Its current design is environmentally geared, but by investigating and measuring if overproduction of coffee has an impact on the ecosystem it will be more environmentally protected.11 Part of the investigation and measuring will reflect that it is not uncommon for small farmers to agree to a significantly lower price in order to sell their beans to the marketplace.

Furthermore, the firm can see if there has been an increase in small farmers having difficulty financing their operations during the year and if they were forced to sell their crop to middlemen prior to harvest season so that they could receive a cash advance or credit at higher interest rates. Other farmers might have disproportionate wealth even though they might have the same product. To balance the global economic and social well-being of nonrenewable resources, they should continue to procure beans from farmers who need the money more to pay off debts and increase long term profitability. 12

It is quite a challenge for Starbucks to take notice of these activities because their chief concern is more environmentally geared. Part of sustainability should be economic as well. This means that the firm should be interested in measuring if wealth is being distributed evenly amongst such farmers. In addition, they could control the population of beans being produce for consumption versus potentially have excessive waste. They can also aid in this effort by backing governmental regulations which protect farmers, the environment, and legislation from companies or lobbyists which seek to only maximize profits at the expense of sustainability.

Concluding Remarks:

This process will create long term sustainability and lead to a general win-win situation on the part of society, communities, consumers, the economy, and the environment for generations to come. In the end, Starbucks is a perfect example of a company on the right path to sustaining changes and upholding a ‘win-win’ business model.

1 Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Starbucks Coffee Company. cat. no. 1-0023, 2002, retrieved 15 November 2007, .

2 Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Starbucks Coffee Company. cat. no. 1-0023, 2002, retrieved 15 November 2007, .

[2] Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Starbucks Coffee Company. cat. no. 1-0023, 2002, retrieved 15 November 2007, .

4 Boteach, Melissa. An ActionAid USA Study. Crisis Brewing in Guatemala:

Opportunities and Considerations in addressing the Land Reform and Coffee Crises, 2002, retrieved 15 November 2007, .

5 The World Conservation Union (IUCN). The Future of Sustainability

Re-thinking Environment and Developmentin the Twenty-first Century. 2006. Retrieved 15 November 2007. .

6 A Forum on Sustainability, Well-Being, and Environmental Protection: What’s an Agency to Do? December 2, 2005; Washington, DC Rapporteur’s Summary. Retrieved 15 November 2007..

7 Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Starbucks Coffee Company. cat. no. 1-0023, 2002, retrieved 15 November 2007, .

8 Paehlke, Robert C. Sustainability. Retrieved 15 November 2007. .

9 Report of the Starbucks Coffee Company/Alliance for Environmental InnovationJoint Task Force. Retrieved 15 November 2007.

10 Mann, Darrell. Changing The Game: Sustainability Without Compromise. 2003. Retrieved 15 November 2007. .

11 The Sigma Project. Sustainability & innovation, learning, and Cultural Change. 2001. retrieved 15 November 2007. .

12 Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Starbucks Coffee Company. cat. no. 1-0023, 2002, retrieved 15 November 2007, .

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