Starbucks target market



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Starbucks’ Target Market

Starbucks is one of the best-known coffee retail giants in the United States. The company has a presence in several countries other than the United States. In total, the company has over 10,000 coffee shops (Welsh et al., 2). The company majorly serves the consumer market. It also serves the business market but on a much lower scale. To make itself appealing to the target market the company mainly relies on product innovation, and expansion of its retail outlets to reach out to more of its target customers. Starbucks controls over 30% of the US coffee market (Welsh et al., 3). This means that it sells more coffee than most fast-foods and convenience stores in the country. This has been achieved by catering for a carefully selected target market as opposed to simply trying to sell to everyone. Starbucks target market has been changing over time in response to the changes in the market. Initially, the target market of Starbucks comprised of people, who were affluent, educated and had white collar jobs (Welsh et al., 3). Over time Starbucks expanded its target market to include ethnic communities as well as rural neighborhoods. This was after Starbucks had realized there was a huge market potential in other market segments.

The bulk of Starbucks target market comprises of people living in cities and upscale suburbs. Men and women aged 25-40 make up the bulk of Starbucks’ target market. This age bracket accounts for about 49% of Starbucks’ total business (Ho, 5). To appeal to this target market, Starbucks tries to ensure that its brand remains a status symbol. This is done by use of advertising and interior décor. It is projected that this target group will continue growing in the next few years. Most of this target market have a high income and have a serious interest in social welfare. To them, the idea of visiting Starbucks as a status Symbol is very appealing and keeps them coming back.

Starbucks also targets young adults. These mostly fall in the age bracket of 18-24. It positions itself as a place where college students can meet and socialize (Lee, 7). To appeal to this target market, Starbucks introduces new technology as soon as it is made available for commercial purposes. This makes it appealing to young adults most of whom are tech savvy. To reach out to this target market, Starbucks has a huge presence on social media. Kids and teenagers also make a sizeable portion of the Starbucks target market. However, Starbucks’ efforts to attract kids are minimal (Ho, 4). This is perhaps to avoid the criticism that might follow if it markets its high-calorie products to kids. Most products sold to kids are bought for them by their parents.

In terms of gender, Starbucks target market is evenly distributed. It targets both men and women (Ho, 6). The consumption rate of Starbucks customers however differs with age. Studies have shown that customers aged above 35 tend to consume more coffee compared to those aged between 18 and 25. This can be expounded by the fact that people in this age bracket have more to spend compared to young adults and teenagers.

In terms of income, Starbucks caters for clients of almost all income levels. However, middle income level customers make the bulk of customers at Starbucks (Lee, 6). This is still the fastest growing market segment for the company. Most of the consumers who visit Starbucks have had some college education. This, however, should not mean that Starbucks is frequented by college graduates only.

In terms of psychographics, Starbucks seeks to give to their target market high-quality coffee that has a unique taste and is available in different varieties. Starbucks products are branded to appear as a status symbol as this appeals to a large part of the target audience (Welsh et al., 4). The target market is assured of convenience both in terms of the location of the coffee shops as well as the delivery of service. Starbucks prides itself to be a place where one can go and get a quick fix. The company sells itself as a business that is highly involved in the activities of the community from where it operates (Thompson, 5). This makes its target customers feel like the company is a part of the community as opposed to seeing it as just another business (Ho, 4). Customers who go to buy Starbucks products expect comfort. To deliver this, the coffee shops try to provide to the customer a warm, friendly urban ambience.

In terms of geographical distribution, Starbucks is found almost all over the world (Marie, 2). It opened shop in Seattle, Washington, in 1971. They later expanded to other areas especially on the west coast. Today Starbucks has presence in over 35 countries across the world. Some of the coffee shops around the world are owned by the company while others are a franchise (Marie, 4). Starbucks coffee shops are found mostly in Airports, Malls and even college campuses (Thompson, 7). The company has a presence in North America, South America, Europe, Asia Australia and even North Africa.

The purchasing behavior of Starbucks target customers is such that most of them want quality and convenience at an affordable price (Starbucks, n. p). Studies have indicated that most of these customers want availability of an array of products even when one buys the same product every day. The customers are health conscious and prefer organic options where possible (Lee, 8). This stems from the fact that the average Starbucks customer is educated and quite informed. Generally speaking, Starbucks targets the upscale market and offers them not only good quality coffee but also a desirable experience.

Works Cited

Ethel Marie The city of white cloud: a study of the market penetration of Starbucks in

Guangzhou City. Guangzhou City: Journal of Business Strategy 29 (49-51). 2010. Web.

Kathleen Lee. Case study: Starbucks coffee. New York. Heinemann. 2011. Print

Kevin Thompson. The culture of Starbucks. New York: McGraw Hill. 2011. Print

Ho Peng-Cheng. An Analysis on the Market Segmentation of Starbucks and City Café. 2012.

DOI: 10.7763/IPEDR. 2012. V54. 33. Web.

Starbucks (2014). How do you like your coffee? Retrieved from


Welsh, Dianne, Peter, Raven & Nasser Al-Mutair. Starbucks enters Kuwait.

Washington DC: Sykes College of Business. 2010. Print.

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