Starbucks to diversify, go upscale

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Jul 28, 2014 - 20:53
  • Updated : Jul 28, 2014 - 20:53
Starbucks Korea on Monday announced that it will diversify its business portfolio, and that this will include becoming more luxurious and exclusive.

Toward this end, the U.S.-based company that is arguably responsible for changing Koreans’ coffee habits by introducing freshly roasted, ground and brewed espressos said it will open an upscale outlet in southern Seoul. It also will be expanding its premium coffee lines and developing exclusive menu items to fulfill the growing demand for personalized, higher-end services.

“As the brand responsible for popularizing espresso and coffeehouse culture in South Korea, we are striving to stay ahead of the game,” said Lee Seock-koo, CEO of Starbucks Korea, at a ceremony to mark the company’s 15th anniversary at the Starbucks Famille Park in southern Seoul.

“We now plan on going upscale to share our premium experience values with our customers. We will be reflecting their needs at a more aggressive pace,” he said.
Starbucks Korea CEO Lee Seock-koo speaks to the press on Monday at the Starbucks Famille Park in southern Seoul. (Starbucks Korea)

The Starbucks Famille Park outlet, which opens on Tuesday, is the first high-profile outlet for the company. Under the theme of “urban coffee forest,” the wooden floor, walls and pillars as well as cotton decorations create a somewhat relaxed and eco-friendly atmosphere.

Four beverages including sunrise apple juice and 32 menu items including a basic chicken baguette will be served exclusively at the outlet alongside ever-popular high-end drinks like organic affogato.

Next year, Starbucks will also open 53 more Reserve stores that serve coffee made with premium Reserve coffee beans. Although a cup of Reserve coffee is more than 30 percent more expensive than ordinary Starbucks coffees, the specially roasted exotic beans have been receiving rave reviews from fans, Lee said.

As part of its efforts to deliver its high-end marketing to the masses, the company launched Fizzio, a customized carbonated juice line with flavors ranging from passion fruit to yogurt juice and lemon ginger.

Mindful of its influence in the market, Starbucks Korea also said it will reinforce its corporate social responsibility efforts.

“We will continue investing 2 percent of our ordinary income to corporate social responsibility programs nurturing disabled baristas, operating coffee shops run by elderly people and more,” Lee said. “I am confident that this will in the end bring us more than what we have expected,” he added.

Starbucks, which opened its first South Korean outlet in front of Ewha Womans University on July 27, 1999, has grown to become a solid business with 680 branches in 62 cities around the country, greeting 320,000 customers every day and grossing 492 billion won ($480 million) in sales last year.

By Bae Ji-sook (