Starbucks Business Model: The Experience Model and Why It Works

The Starbucks business model has revolutionized the way people experience and enjoy their daily cup of coffee.

Gary Fox

Starbucks Business Model Canvas

Starbucks Business Model: The Experience Model and Why It Works

The Starbucks business model has revolutionized the way people experience and enjoy their daily cup of coffee. With its inviting atmosphere, high-quality products, and unwavering commitment to customer service, Starbucks has become a beloved brand worldwide. In this article, we delve into the fascinating business model behind Starbucks’ success, exploring its history, ownership, mission, and the strategies that have made it a true icon in the coffee industry.

How Does Starbucks’ Business Work?

Starbucks operates as a global retailer of high-quality coffee, tea, and other beverages, as well as a selection of fresh food items. The company’s business model is centered around providing a unique “Starbucks Experience” to its customers, which includes a welcoming atmosphere, friendly service, and a sense of community. Starbucks generates revenue through company-operated stores, licensed stores, and consumer-packaged goods sold through various channels.

Key Facts About Starbucks

. Company name:



Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegl, and Gordon Bowker

Launch date:

March 1971 – first store opening

Year founded:


Company CEO:

Howard Schultz


Seattle, Washington, USA

Number of employees
Ticker symbol


Annual revenue

$29.46 billion (2023)

Profit | Net Income

$4.12 billion (2023)

Market Cap

$96.14 billion (April 2024)

Useful Links

Facebook 2
Tik Tok
Social Media 2
Social 2

A Brief History of Starbucks

Starbucks was founded in 1971 by Jerry Baldwin, Zev Siegl, and Gordon Bowker in Seattle, Washington. Initially, the company focused on selling high-quality coffee beans, tea, and spices. In 1981, Howard Schultz joined Starbucks as Director of Marketing, and after a trip to Italy, he became inspired by the Italian coffee bar culture. Schultz convinced the founders to test the coffeehouse concept, and the first Starbucks Caffè Latte was served in 1984.

Key milestones in Starbucks’ history include:

  • 1987: Howard Schultz acquires Starbucks with the help of local investors, becoming CEO and Chairman
  • 1992: Starbucks goes public on the NASDAQ stock exchange
  • 1996: Starbucks opens its first international store in Tokyo, Japan
  • 2001: Starbucks introduces the Starbucks Card, a reloadable stored-value card
  • 2008: Starbucks acquires the Coffee Equipment Company and launches the Clover brewing system
  • 2011: Starbucks expands its product offerings with the acquisition of Evolution Fresh and launch of Starbucks K-Cups
  • 2018: Starbucks opens its largest store to date, the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Shanghai, China

Who Owns Starbucks?

Starbucks is a publicly-traded company, with shares listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange under the ticker symbol SBUX. As of 2021, the company’s largest individual shareholder is Howard Schultz, who serves as the interim CEO. The remaining shares are held by institutional investors and the general public. Starbucks has a market capitalization of over $130 billion, making it one of the most valuable restaurant brands in the world. The company’s ownership structure allows for a diverse range of investors to participate in its growth and success while providing the necessary capital for expansion and innovation.

Mission Statement

Starbucks’ mission statement is “To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.”

How Starbucks Works

The Starbucks business model is built upon providing a premium coffeehouse experience to its customers. The company achieves this through several key strategies:

  1. High-quality products: Starbucks sources the finest coffee beans from around the world and maintains strict quality control standards throughout the supply chain.
  2. Inviting store atmosphere: Starbucks stores are designed to provide a warm, welcoming environment that encourages customers to stay and socialize.
  3. Exceptional customer service: Starbucks invests heavily in employee training to ensure that baristas deliver friendly, knowledgeable, and efficient service.
  4. Product innovation: Starbucks continuously introduces new beverages, food items, and seasonal offerings to keep its menu fresh and exciting.
  5. Digital engagement: Starbucks leverages its mobile app and loyalty program to enhance customer convenience, personalize experiences, and drive repeat visits.
  6. Global expansion: Starbucks has successfully expanded its presence worldwide through a combination of company-operated and licensed stores, adapting to local tastes and preferences.
  7. Social responsibility: Starbucks is committed to ethical sourcing, environmental sustainability, and community involvement, which resonates with its socially-conscious customer base.

Starbucks’ focus on creating a unique and personalized customer experience, coupled with its high-quality products and commitment to social responsibility, has helped the company build a strong and loyal customer base. The company’s ability to adapt to changing consumer preferences and embrace digital technologies has also contributed to its ongoing success.

The Revenue Model of Starbucks

The Starbucks revenue model consists of:

  • Company-operated stores: Sales from Starbucks-owned and operated stores account for the majority of the company’s revenue.
  • Licensed stores: Starbucks receives royalties and product sales from licensed stores operated by third parties, such as those found in airports, hotels, and grocery stores.
  • Consumer-packaged goods: Starbucks earns revenue from the sale of packaged coffee, tea, and ready-to-drink beverages through grocery stores, warehouse clubs, and online retailers.
  • Foodservice: Starbucks supplies coffee and other products to foodservice customers, such as restaurants, universities, and airlines.
  • Other revenue: This includes sales from the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Rooms, as well as revenue from the company’s mobile app and loyalty program.

How does Starbucks make money?

Starbucks’ focus on high-quality products sold through retail stores and other channels.. The focus on exceptional customer service, and global expansion has allowed the company to maintain strong profitability and growth over the years.

What is Starbucks’ Business?

The Starbucks business model focuses on operating specialty coffee shops in the coffeehouse sector of the food and beverage industry. The company differentiates itself from competitors by offering a premium, personalized coffeehouse experience, high-quality products, and a strong brand identity. Starbucks’ competitive advantages include its global scale, brand loyalty, product innovation, and digital capabilities.

Key Features of Starbucks’ Business Model

  • Premium coffeehouse experience: Providing a welcoming atmosphere, exceptional service, and high-quality products
  • Product innovation: Continuously introducing new beverages, food items, and seasonal offerings
  • Global expansion: Growing through a mix of company-operated and licensed stores worldwide
  • Digital engagement: Leveraging mobile app and loyalty program to enhance customer experience and drive sales

The Starbucks Business Model

Starbucks Business Model Canvas
Customer Segments Of The Starbucks Business Model Canvas

Customer Segments

The Starbucks business model caters to a diverse range of customer segments. These segments are crucial for the company’s success and growth. The following are Starbucks’ key customer segments:

  • Segment: Young adults and professionals
  • Segment: Coffee enthusiasts and connoisseurs
  • Segment: Socially conscious consumers
  • Segment: Remote workers and students
  • Segment: Travelers and tourists
  • Value Proposition Of The Business Model Canvas

    Value Propositions

    The Starbucks business model value proposition offers unique benefits to its customer segments that set it apart from competitors. Starbucks’ primary value propositions include:

  • Proposition: High-quality, handcrafted coffee beverages
  • Proposition: Welcoming and comfortable store environment
  • Proposition: Personalized and efficient customer service
  • Proposition: Convenient locations and mobile ordering
  • Proposition: Commitment to ethical sourcing and sustainability
  • Channels


    The Starbucks business model takes an omnichannel channel approach within its business model. These channels are essential for delivering the company’s value propositions and engaging with customers. The following are Starbucks’ main channels:

  • Channel: Company-operated retail stores
  • Channel: Licensed stores in various locations
  • Channel: Mobile app and online ordering
  • Channel: Grocery and retail partnerships
  • Channel: Social media and digital marketing
  • Key Relationships Of The Business Model Canvas

    Customer Relationships

    The Starbucks business model establishes and maintains strong customer relationships. These relationships foster loyalty, encourage repeat visits, and contribute to the company’s overall success. Starbucks’ customer relationships include:

  • Relationship: Personalized in-store experience
  • Relationship: Starbucks Rewards loyalty program
  • Relationship: Engaging social media presence
  • Relationship: Responsive customer service and feedback channels
  • Key Activities Of The Business Model Canvas

    Key Activities

    Starbucks performs key activities to create and deliver its value propositions. These activities are essential for the company’s business model and ensure smooth operations. Starbucks’ key activities include:

  • Activity: Coffee bean sourcing and roasting
  • Activity: Product development and innovation
  • Activity: Store operations and customer service
  • Activity: Supply chain management and distribution
  • Activity: Marketing and brand management
  • Key Resources Of The Business Model Canvas

    Key Resources

    The Starbucks business model relies on key resources to create and deliver its value propositions. These resources are crucial for the company’s business model and contribute to its competitive advantage. Starbucks’ key resources include:

  • Resource: Skilled and dedicated workforce
  • Resource: High-quality coffee beans and ingredients
  • Resource: Strong brand reputation and intellectual property
  • Resource: Proprietary technology and mobile app
  • Resource: Extensive global store network
  • Key Partners Of The Business Model Canvas

    Key Partners

    Starbucks collaborates with key partners to create and deliver its value propositions. These partnerships are crucial for the company’s business model and contribute to its success. Starbucks’ key partners include:

  • Partner: Coffee farmers and cooperatives
  • Partner: Food and beverage suppliers
  • Partner: Licensees and franchisees
  • Partner: Technology providers and mobile app developers
  • Partner: Retail and grocery partners
  • Partner: Logistics and distribution providers
  • Revenue Streams Of The Business Model Canvas

    Revenue Streams

    The Starbucks revenue model generates various streams. These revenue streams are essential for the company’s financial sustainability and growth. Starbucks’ main revenue streams include:

  • Stream: Sales from company-operated retail stores
  • Stream: Royalties and product sales from licensed stores
  • Stream: Consumer packaged goods and retail partnerships
  • Stream: Food and beverage sales within stores
  • Stream: Starbucks Reserve and Roastery sales
  • Stream: Advertising and co-branding partnerships
  • Cost Structure Of The Business Model Canvas

    Cost Structure

    Starbucks’ cost structure consists of the main costs incurred within its business model. These costs are essential for the company’s operations and profitability. Starbucks’ key costs include:

  • Cost: Coffee bean and ingredient procurement
  • Cost: Employee wages and benefits
  • Cost: Store operations and utilities
  • Cost: Marketing and advertising expenses
  • Cost: Technology development and maintenance
  • Cost: Supply chain and distribution costs
  • The Future of Starbucks Business Model

    As consumer preferences evolve and the global market landscape changes, the Starbucks business model is well-positioned to adapt and grow. The company’s focus on high-quality products, personalized customer experiences, and digital innovation will likely continue to drive its success. Starbucks’ commitment to sustainability and ethical sourcing will remain a key differentiator, appealing to socially conscious consumers. The company’s expansion into new markets, both through company-operated and licensed stores, will provide opportunities for growth. Additionally, Starbucks’ investments in technology, such as its mobile app and loyalty program, will help the company maintain a competitive edge and foster strong customer relationships. As Starbucks navigates the future, its ability to innovate, adapt, and maintain its core values will be crucial for the longevity and success of its business model.

    Related Business Model Patterns

    The Starbucks business model and some of the main business model patterns it uses.

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