Conversation Agent - Valeria Maltoni - An Unlikely Blend

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Chris -- I agree with you. The only way it can work in Italy is by selling the American brand. Gianandrea hinted at that in his comment as well.

Joe -- thank you for taking the time to stop in and for providing information from your blog. Yes, people need contact and I do wonder, does a perfunctory hello by a busy barista in a chain store satisfy that?

Richie -- well, if the service is not good, people just don't go. It's that simple and it happens all the time.

I was having a conversation today with a friend I met at one of the local coffee shops, right across from a Starbucks. He once learned from a barista that the company trains their staff to contradict their customers. Try this: you order a small latte and the barista comes back asking if you meant a tall latte. Interesting.

Very interesting post Valeria,

I live in Spain which has a similar coffee culture to Italy. A lot of the cafeterias are owned by families, which means you get a continuity of service and the ability to make long-term relationships with the owners.

Of course, sometimes, the service may not be very good, but in my local cafeteria we are on first name terms, and it is very comfortable.

You are right that Starbucks is a "fast-food" mentality and they could never hope to compete with the classic family cafeteria.

I actually like Starbucks and those chains, but I would be a little sad if they encroached in Spain in a big way.

Hi Valeria,

See the post on Employee Value Proposition in my blog. The Starbucks reference talks about why they are successful: it isn't about coffee. It is about 'the experience'.

In America people are desperate to connect again. Attached garages, Internet (just like this), Cable TV...entertainment is at our fingertips. Yet this doesn't feed the human need for real, face-to-face community and interaction.

Having not taken the opportunity yet to travel to Italy, I expect that if the experience is important to the market, Starbucks will be there with the Starbucks experience.

They are in Vienna, and doing ok. Even smoke-free, virtually a sin in a Viennese coffee house.

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