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Making the Case for Coffee

"The powers of a man's mind are directly proportioned to the quantity of coffee he drinks."
- Sir James Mackintosh, philosopher, author, professor, and coffee drinker

Three members of the McColl School family recently published "Starbucks:  Maintaining a Clear Position" in the Journal of the International Academy for Case Studies, Volume 18, Issue 3 (April 2012).  Bryan Seaford ('07 PMBA), Chris Culp ('09 PMBA), and Brad Brooks, Ph.D. wrote the case to highlight the challenges of navigating a successful company to optimal brand extension.

According to Seaford, writing the case with Brooks and Culp was a natural fit:  "All three of us have a strong interest in marketing.  Dr. Brooks specializes in consumer behavior, Chris has a passion for helping companies find the best way to serve customers, and I'm fascinated by the emerging research in behavioral psychology.  The case is a vignette of Starbucks during its headiest days, when the brand was being significantly extended.  The idea of brand extension is to take something that consumers value - like Coca-Cola - and extend consumers' goodwill to a new product or service that ties to the old - like Diet Coke."

One of the interesting surprises for Culp and Seaford was the amount of research required to publish.  "We started with a great deal of source material, but ultimately used about 30 sources in the final publication," Culp says.  "It was important for us to learn as much as we could about Starbucks, review the literature on brand extension and consumer behavior, and survey the influences that drive consumer behavior in the coffee markets."

Would they do it again?  All three said "absolutely."  Dr. Brooks shares "This is what I'm passionate about.  I enjoy sharing my passion for consumer behavior with others, especially students and former students at The McColl School.  It's part of what makes our institution special."

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