Glocalisation: silly word but serious brand play by Starbucks

When Arthur Rubinfeld, president of global development at Starbucks spoke about ‘glocalisation’ at Sustainable Brands 2011, he spoke of how the beverage chain is incorporating sustainable and local elements into its business – without compromising the essence of the global brand.

The latest example of Starbucks implementing locally-relevant design is a store on New Orleans’ famed Canal Street that celebrates the city’s heritage – not an easy task in a city with history involving jazz, voodoo, pirates, Tabasco, Sazeracs, chicory (to name a few things) and rule by the Spanish, French, English and Americans.

To design the store, the team imagined what it would have looked like in the 1900s, and employed local artists for the murals and fittings.

The questions is, is it a crass attempt by a corporation to hijack a culture it doesn’t own or a commendable move to kill the all-conquering cookie-cutter design strategy and get in touch with local areas?

That’s the balancing challenge Starbucks faces, as do other brands that follow the trend from global brand consistency being driven by uniformness of appearance to one of neighbourhood belonging.

Starbucks New Orleans 1

Starbucks New Orleans 3

Image credit: Photos copyright Matthew Glac, courtesy of Starbucks.

Here’s Arthur Rubinfeld, president of global development, Starbucks in a conversation about ‘glocalisation’ at Sustainable Brands 2011.