Following up on my recent post “If only I had a faster horse” one of the most visible stories of a company successfully driving lifestyle trends is Starbucks. Here is a company that did not invent anything profound. Rather, it mimicked and repackaged.
Starbucks adopted the social café concept, whose roots extend back to the Ottoman Empire of the sixteenth century, then became popular throughout Europe in the seventeenth century, and has been thriving there since. Starbucks molded and combined this concept with an efficient and replicable quick-service platform that allowed it to grow quickly and to provide a consistent experience all across the United States and then abroad. In doing so, Starbucks became one of the most recognized brands, acquired a fanatical (some even say addicted) following, and has grown into a $10 billion business.
Starbucks is a great example of fabricating compelling lifestyle enrichment by successfully combining already existing yet previously separate elements, rather than creating something that hasn’t existed before. There is an exciting shortcut to becoming market driving: you don’t necessarily have to invent something completely new; instead you can repackage already existing components in a meaningful, new way. Having done the latter, Starbucks’ lifestyle impact was profound. It changed the perception of coffee from being an enabler to being a destination, so rather than people taking their coffee to work (enabling them to be more alert), they are now taking work to their coffee (bringing laptops and conducting meetings at the cafés). In an increasingly disjointed society, coffee (of all things) has become a catalyst for people to stay connected, making cafés once again the pivotal social hubs that they were for centuries past—in large part due to Starbucks’ pioneering lead.
More on the perspective of lifestyle enrichment in my book Slingshot: Re-Imagine Your Business, Re-Imagine Your Life.