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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports on Starbucks’ ultimate business goal – to become as well known as Coca-Cola.

It was a goal that the company established for itself eight years ago – and has made progress toward faster than expected. "This has really happened far more rapidly than I ever imagined," Orin Smith, Starbucks' president and CEO, told the paper. "We're not even 10 years into that 25- or 30-year plan ... and yet we're on the playing field" of brand awareness.

The company currently has more than 7,500 units around the globe, with more than 1,300 new stores planned for this year alone.

But the lynchpin of Starbucks’ plans seems to be creating “concierge services” that will capitalize on its brand awareness – offering, according to the paper, “not just a good cup of joe but all sorts of services and products befitting someone willing to shell out $2 or more for a cup of flavored caffeine.”

Typical of its thinking is its Hear Music concept, which it has been testing in a Starbucks store in Santa Monica, California – allowing people to burn customized music CDs in the store. The test has been successful enough that Starbucks plans to open similar units in Seattle, with a further national rollout expected by the end of the year.

There’s also the company’s rapid rollout of wireless Internet services, which make Starbucks an ideal place to have a cup of coffee and use high-speed wireless Internet connections to browse email.

On the radar screen as possible services: restaurant tie-ins, and perhaps even movie or concert ticket sales.
KC's View:
What’s interesting about the Starbucks approach is that it all seems centered on building the basic brand, on bringing people into the store, on creating a cultural center for various communities – even while expanding its portfolio of offerings.

Starbucks seems to be becoming a kind of portal for a wide variety of experiences, but while remaining relentlessly focused on standing for something very specific.

It’s that whole “third place” philosophy – becoming a place other than home and office that people feel welcomed, where people can get together in community.

Love the coffee, Love this approach.