• Stepping down as CEO: Howard Schultz of Starbucks, a true marketing genius

    Howard Schultz founded Starbucks and, with his gift for marketing, turned it into an iconic global brand.

    In early April, he will step down from his position as CEO. (Seattle Times)

    Starbucks ubiquity obscures Schultz’s remarkable marketing achievement

    Marketing does not simply mean selling.

    It means discovering what consumers want–perhaps even before consumers have figured it out themselves.

    It means sticking to what your customers want and then expanding your product line sensibly, without diluting the experience.

    “The experience” is Starbucks’ edge

    Under Schultz’ direction, Starbucks have figured out a way to create a modern substitute for the old corner bar, one updated for a new generation while still welcoming older customers.

    They do it reliably, too, across the US and around the world.

    To do that with a generic product, one with very low barriers to entry, one that any local vendor can imitate, and still achieve market dominance is remarkable.

    That puts Schultz is in a class with Steve Jobs as visionary marketing geniuses who created and delivered an “experience,” as much as a product, for their customers.