Business English Course

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Starbucks started in 1971 as a single store in Seattle. Before Starbucks, coffee sales in the US were on the decline. Their reasoning was that the coffee generally served in the US at the time was weak and horrible. Starbucks aimed to change American coffee culture by introducing the concept of the coffeehouse as a social gathering place. They wanted to provide gourmet European style coffee and a great “Starbucks experience” from the moment a customer entered the door to the time they left. They provide a relaxing environment, play good music, and have free wireless internet. It’s a bit of a yuppie hangout for young urban professionals and students a like. Starbucks has been able to maintain their upscale brand image by providing excellent coffee, service, and environment. This isn’t an easy feat for a chain of this magnitude. They’ve been able to do this by keeping high standards for each and every shop. Starbucks is remarkably similar anywhere in the world and is even non-smoking in countries like China and Japan. They’ve been able to think outside the box and go against conventional wisdom in several areas. One example is that they cluster their stores near each other. It was previously thought that this practice would reduce sales in nearby stores, but instead it helped Starbucks gain market dominance as well as made the delivery of supplies cheaper. Starbucks also spends only about 1% of revenue on marketing, compared with the 10% that many other companies of its size spend. They instead rely mostly on word of mouth and brand image. It wasn’t an overnight success but with patience, hard work, and a good business plan, Starbucks has become one of the great American business success stories of the 21st century.

Key vocabulary and phrases that are discussed in the podcast:

Gourmet: Some food or drink that is of high quality. It can involve the best ingredients, the best and most skillful preparation and so on. Some people believe that although gourmet food is much more expensive, the extra cost is worth it.

Yuppie hangout: A “yuppie” is a young ambitious person who lives in a city and has a professional career and an expensive lifestyle. Often yuppies like to only associate with other yuppies and look down upon other people who aren’t doing as well as them. A “yuppie hangout” is of course a place where yuppies meet or “hangout”.

Magnitude: The size or amount. The magnitude of yesterday’s earthquake wasn’t very big. The company lost $1 000 000 on the trade, but it wasn’t too big a deal for a company of such a large magnitude.

Think outside the box: This phrase means to think creatively and differently from what is the obvious way of thinking. Also, think differently than other people do. Thinking outside the box can give entirely new and interesting ideas or ways to solve a problem.

Conventional wisdom: These are the beliefs or opinions that most people, even most intelligent people, hold. Conventional wisdom says that it healthy to go to bed early and get up early.

Cluster: Gather together. So many people were clustering around the accident, that it was difficult for the police to get there to help the person.

Word of mouth: This is one way for news to spread. Companies often say that “word of mouth” advertising is the cheapest and most effective form of advertising. Word of mouth just means people tell other people about something.

Overnight success: This phrase means for something to become a success in a very short time. Last year nobody knew him, but after the release of his first movie he became an overnight success.



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