How folks pay for their Starbucks coffee could be the nearest-term change with the widest impact.
Already, Starbucks is producing more than 3 million mobile payments per week. That, says Schultz, exceeds the combined mobile payments of the next 10 companies closest to Starbucks. "This will result in a much deeper experience with our customers," he says.
For consumers, that will mean much more one-to-one marketing, says Schultz. That is, specific deals and promos could be specially targeted to individual consumers based on their buying habits.
Then, it gets really cool.
Sooner than later, Schultz projects, regular customers might not even have to belly-up to the bar to order. Rather, based on the information on a mobile phone app that they're carrying, they could be "recognized" as being in the store -- and baristas will have the option to start preparing their usual favorites, without them having to actually order.
"We'll take customers on a journey," Schultz says. "It will be very coffee-forward."
At the same time that Starbucks markets to customers one-to-one, it also will be offering more micro-lots of single varietal coffees -- "like rare or cult wines," says Schultz. While these rare coffees will not be inexpensive, "I don't want them to be at an unaffordable price point."
The technology and the pomp used to prepare coffee at Starbucks stores down the road may be very different from the current system, Schultz says. He doesn't know exactly what it will be. But, Schultz says, enhanced reality isn't out of the question. He recently watched the Life of Pi in 3-D after initially seeing a conventional version of the film, and the difference, he says, was startling. "I'm not saying we'll use 3-D," he says. "What this is really about is how you use technology."
In any case, innovation will continue to be the hallmark of Starbucks, he says.
His most direct advice to innovators: passion. "You must find something that you deeply love and are passionate about and are willing to sacrifice a lot to achieve," says Schultz.
There's just one more thing every successful innovator needs. "As trite as it sounds, you need a little luck."
Schultz, arguably, made much of his own luck.
Going the distance
The simplest innovation that Schultz craves: to create such an outside-the-box Starbucks coffee product that he'll feel confident enough to finally open Starbucks coffee shops in Italy.
It was the trip that Schultz made to Italy in 1983 that gave him the incentive to establish a coffee shop chain. But even with Starbucks stores around the globe, it has not yet entered the Italian market. "That's a dream that I have yet to accomplish," he says.
Schultz's dream, beyond the Starbucks brand, is for bipartisan cooperation in Washington. While he has not stated any personal political ambitions, Schultz says politicians need to know that "their greatest responsibility isn't to a party, but to the American people."
His optimism is slightly tempered by his concerns.
"The future of America is not an entitlement," he says. "We have been given a treasure chest of gifts and opportunities, but some people are being left behind, and success is not sustainable unless it is shared. Everyone must have a shot at the American Dream."
Even if it's just one cup at a time.
Most Popular Stories
- Networks Vie for U.S. Hispanic TV Viewers
- Ad Counts Rise in 2013 for Hispanic Magazines
- 2014 World Cup Official Noisemakers Quieter than Vuvuzelas
- Saab Gets Back into the Game; U.S. Auto Sales Soar
- Dell Offers Undisclosed Number of Employee Buyouts
- Authorities Close to Deal with JPMorgan Chase over Madoff Response
- Apple Activates Customer-Tracking iBeacon
- 2013 Tech Gift Guide: iPad Mini Still Hot; Chromecast a Great Low-Cost Option
- It's No Yolk: Food-tech Startups Take Aim at Replacing Eggs
- A Biography of Jonathan Ive, Apple's Creative Chief