There is one Starbucks where they don’t ask your name when you order your drink. Rewards cards and phones are prohibited because they might store or convey information. Meanwhile baristas undergo security checks, can only say to friends that they work at a federal building, and have to report anyone who asks them too many questions. Not knowing names, one barista said she associates people’s faces with their drinks, like the “iced-white mocha woman.”
According to the receipt, this Starbucks is Store #1 (my store is #20167) but some just call it the Stealthy Starbucks. And yes, its location is Langley, Virginia at the CIA headquarters.
The Langley Starbucks is one example of how a global chain has to have a local link.
Just opened in July, Starbucks’s first store in Colombia will sell only locally sourced beans. In Great Britain, recognizing people were happy to take their coffee and run, Starbucks needed more drive-throughs. The opposite was true in France where customers liked to “sit and sip” an espresso that tasted less “charred.” Responding, Starbucks added a blonde roast espresso to the menu and more seats.
In China, Starbucks is catering to a tea-drinking culture where one customer said, “…the coffee is so bitter it tastes like Chinese medicine.” As a result, through drinks like Black Sesame Green Tea Frappucino, they obscure the coffee taste with milk, sugar and foam. Similarly, in India, Starbucks’s food offerings include the Reshmi Kebab Roll and spice infused Chai Tea Latte but also locally sourced coffee and a Classic Breakfast Chicken Sandwich.
We should add though, that Starbucks India initially had problems going local as has Starbucks Australia.
Our Bottom Line: Competition
Even on a global scale, successful firms recognize what monopolistic competition requires.