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Watch: Italians Respond To Starbucks Opening In Italy, Home Of The Espresso
By Yoon Sann Wong, 02 Mar 2017
A few days ago, it was announced that coffee chain Starbucks would be opening an outlet in Milan, Italy–home to the authentic espresso and cappuccino–come 2018.
You can say the brand’s come full circle. After all, it was in Milan more than three decades ago that Starbucks founder, Howard Schultz, gained his inspiration for the popular chain. It’s since grown into a “third place” for communities around the globe.
Now, Starbucks is taking on what could be its toughest market yet. The brand’s first outpost will be located at the core of Milan’s city center. With traditional beloved Italian coffeehouses just a stone’s throw away and possibly in every corner, Starbucks intends to set itself apart by launching a high-end Roastery, offering drinks that are not available at its regular brick-and-mortars, while showcasing the entire coffee-making process in-house.
“Frankly, I’d be more wary of the Italian bars in my neighborhood than of Starbucks’ diluted coffee,” says Cristian Marone, co-manager of Bar dei Bossi, a coffeehouse in Milan and a four-minute walk from Starbuck’s first store in the city. “If I ever went to Starbucks, I would feel like a number, not a customer. In our bar, customer care is crucial.”
If you’re wondering why its taken Starbucks more than 30 years to penetrate the Italian market, it’s mainly due to the brand’s “deep respect for the Italian people and their rich heritage and culture around the art of coffee.”
That certainly rings true. For Italians, their bars–where you can get both coffee and alcoholic drinks–are, and have been, their “third place” for eons.
Furthermore, as NPR has pointed out, the price point is another major competitive factor. A pastry and cuppacino consumed while standing in an Italian bar costs on average US$3. Starbucks’ ‘Grande Cuppacino’ itself costs US$3.95, before tax. Will Italians pay for that? Probably not, and they’re certainly not shunning away from the new entry.
Bring it on says Italia because after all, “Here, everywhere is better than Starbucks.”
[via NPR, video via AJ+]
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