Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz held a town hall meeting geared at the company’s employees on Monday. Schultz unveiled a development he thought would thrill them: cryptocurrency.
Schultz is returning to the corporation amid internal problems for his third stint as CEO.
Schultz declared that Starbucks would enter the NFT business by year-end at the meeting. The CEO has led the firm for more than two decades until turning over the CEO reins to Johnson in 2017.
In recent times, Starbucks’ employees have joined the unionized movement gathering workers from multiple industries. Unionization votes have been taking place in numerous states of the United States. Better pay and working conditions are top on their list of demands.
Schultz’s reappearance is likely a response to the demands of the union. His future vision may include a significant role for NFTs and cryptocurrency.
In an official blog post, the executive outlined his vision for the organization. “Pinching supply chains” and “a rising generation that seeks a new accountability for business” were challenges Schultz cited.
However, it is unclear how Schultz will plan to use NFTs and his management power to address “assaults” from the union.
The executive admitted at the event that he is not a “digital native.” However, the internet world plays a significant role in Starbucks’ new future plan.
During the meeting, the CEO inquired about the NFT frenzy sweeping through several industries since 2021. While many in the audience appeared skeptical, this is not the first big corporate name to join the market.
Others, such as Taco Bell and Papa John’s, are experimenting with NFTs. An NFT-based podcast network is in the plans of iHeartMedia, and TIME has published its first-ever NFT magazine issue.
What Does Schultz Plan to Achieve?
Announcing that a company will join the NFT trend in front of angry unionized employees may seem inappropriate to many. However, we should not make the mistake of underestimating Schultz’s strategy.
It’s probably Schultz’s belief that entering this market will allow the corporation to “reimagine” the consumer and employee experience. According to the CEO, digital assets will enable Starbucks to adapt to the current period. In other words, NFTs could lead to new ways in which customers connect with the shop.
Re-imagination should lead to a corporation that does not have unions. Even if Schultz didn’t explicitly mention it, he seemed to imply as much during his remarks. Instead, he wants Starbucks to remain a non-union firm.
The Company’s Issues
To understand the context of Schultz’s announcement, we may want to look at Starbucks’ recent issues.
In the 1990s, Starbucks began to portray itself as “the third place,” a space between home and work where consumers could find comfort while enjoying their coffee. There is no doubt that today, Starbucks is among the most famous coffee brands globally.
Espresso shops in Milan, which Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz visited in the late 1980s, were a significant inspiration. The company now has over 30,000 stores worldwide, proving a successful business story.
Since then, the firm has developed this attitude to provide its employees “a welcome and inspiring third place.” The management’s plan includes free college tuition, paid maternity leave, and healthcare benefits for part-time workers.
So, what exactly went wrong over the years that required unions to get in the way of Starbucks’ executives? Even before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the corporation had begun to downgrade its “third place” idea.
Starbucks’ brand identity simply changed as the lifestyle in the U.S. and other markets evolved. The company’s mobile app grew in popularity, leading to more orders happening online. As a result of their portability, cold beverages outsold heated ones.
In this context, the company’s connection with its employees shifted due to internal and external factors. In Buffalo, New York, Baristas began organizing, claiming that their pay was too low with no workplace safety.
The movement originated in Buffalo and quickly spread to other stores, and executives could no longer ignore it.
Final Thoughts on Starbucks NFT
It is undoubtedly too early to understand the link between NFTs and Starbucks’ future strategy. However, if we look at the bigger picture, the company may choose a new business model to tackle its issues.
While the NFT effect on unionized workers may appear counterintuitive, a new business strategy may increase the company’s income. The management may see new opportunities from better sales, with positive repercussions on the workforce.