Do you think that Starbucks has grown rapidly because of its ethical and socially responsible activities or because it provides products and an environment that customers want?

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This question is more complicated than it seems. In today’s culture, it is difficult to separate ethical business practices and social responsibility from “the products and environment that customers want.” The general public is paying a lot more attention to how businesses behave than they used to, and in the...

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This question is more complicated than it seems. In today’s culture, it is difficult to separate ethical business practices and social responsibility from “the products and environment that customers want.” The general public is paying a lot more attention to how businesses behave than they used to, and in the minds of many modern consumers, a company’s image depends both on the quality of their products and on their reputation for ethical behavior.

It is not an either/or answer: we want good coffee in a pleasant environment, but we will not give our money to a business if we disapprove of their social practices. If I had to choose, I would say that Starbucks is successful because they have really emphasized their ethical standards and social actions and that makes customers feel good about buying their products.

In my opinion, Starbucks has become such a behemoth in the coffee/cafe industry because they spend a lot of money on advertising and pushing a “brand image” that makes consumers believe that they are the default—or sometimes the only—choice for coffee. Many people will not bother to look for other local options if there is a Starbucks conveniently located on every corner. 

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