Dallacqua began with a detailed description of the Starbucks brand, including their current sales and marketing strategies, new product launches, and growth plans. He joked that in Massachusetts there are 2 tribes: the Dunkin’ Donuts tribe and the Starbucks tribe. Even though only 1 in every 9 people in Massachusetts drinks Starbucks, Dallacqua maintains customers have an allegiance to the brand. While Starbucks may only share 10% of the customer base, Dallacqua suggests that, “No company will ever have a long-term competitive advantage in product or price.” Comparing the two brands, he argued that Starbucks’ strength is its ability to maintain that small-town coffeehouse aesthetic. “What is the most beautiful sound in the world?” he asked, “Hearing your name.” And the numbers don’t lie. Starbucks continues to turn a successful profit in the region despite their small market share.
Joe Dallacqua, The Regional Vice President of Starbucks' Great Lakes and New England Region.
In fulfilling consumers’ expectations for innovation, Starbucks introduced the Via Instant Coffee Drink to those attending the panel. “Our customers depend on us to innovate. But not everything works,” Dallacqua says, when referring to Starbucks’ expansion into CDs and other non-coffee related goods. The idea was formulated by CEO Howard Schultz and eventually failed. However, Dallacqua affirmed that Starbucks acknowledges its errors and is headed down the right path. “Own it! You made a mistake and move on.”
Students line up to try Via, Starbucks' new instant coffee drink.
After the formal discussion, students, faculty and staff were asked to join Dallacqua and the rest of the Starbucks team for an informal networking opportunity over some great tasting Starbucks coffee and sweets.