What Will Starbucks ‘Express’ Stores Mean for the Brand’s Culture?

I24905278_BG1f you’re addicted to your morning cup of Starbucks but are sick of waiting in long lines of giggling tweens ordering ten-word-long beverages before homeroom, the cafe chain has some good news for you.

In an effort to cater to busy commuters, the company plans to launch smaller, express-style stores with reduced menu items, mobile ordering, and digital payment systems, all with the aim of getting you on your way faster. This move comes as the coffee chain looks to further strengthen its already-successful drive-through stores, which make up about 40% of its US locations and already have a higher sales growth than its stores without drive-through windows.

Starbucks also plans to open at least 100 new stores in the next five years dedicated solely to its Starbucks Reserve small-batch arabica coffee line.

But if you don’t have to wade through a sea of aspiring novelists typing furiously on their iPads or listen to the Dr. Seuss-esque tongue twisters that are the epitome of drink orders, then are you really part of the Starbucks culture?

Well, in a word, yes; you’re just part of the other Starbucks culture.

We’ve noticed that the coffee chain has been making moves of late that seem to cater to two very different groups of customers: the ones who virtually live at Starbucks, making it their office, living room, meeting spot and social hub (the launch of wireless charging stations is a good example of this type of marketing move), and those who just want to get in and out with a damn cup of coffee (hence the express stores).

It seems that Starbucks is not only recognizing, but embracing and attempting to capitalize on the duality of its customer base, and maybe splitting these two groups up — literally — by giving them two different types of stores is the ultimate branding move. But can one brand really sustain two different cultures? So far, the answer seems to be yes, but we suppose only time will tell.