Starbucks Tries This New Strategy

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Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX), the largest coffeehouse company in the world, is rethinking the way people experience coffee. The Seattle-based chain is iconic for lounges and free Wi-Fi, but now it’s ready to show customers a new face. Starting in Denver, Colorado, Starbucks will be opening small LEED-certified shops with no seats and no Wi-Fi. Latte-seekers will need to either drive through or walk up.

Starbucks had nearly 20,000 locations as of September 8, 2012. Even for the brand that defined coffee for America — sorry, Dunkin’ Donuts (NASDAQ:DNKN) — there can be too much ubiquity in image. Any given American could recognize a Starbucks from their periphery, but the new storefronts may have would-be customers and anti-Starbucks diehards doing a double take.

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Starbucks has a few real competitors in the United States, but the company has proven time and time again that it’s out to win. Dunkin’ Donuts has seen comfortable growth in share value this year to date, but the company just landed one star at the Motley Fool CAPS. With Tim Hortons (NYSE:THI) moving into the United States from Canada, brewed-coffee competition could be stepping up.

McDonald’s (NYSE:MCD), which has attracted mixed attention recently, has been increasingly trying to position itself as a breakfast destination. The company gave away free coffee as part of a National Coffee Day on September 29.

IBISWorld reports that the coffee and snack shops market pulls in $28 billion in revenue and has grown 1.2% annually.

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