Starbucks: Entering Australia
Starbucks is an American coffee market and a famous coffeehouse chain. In the past ten years, the company has been struggling to make inroads into the Australian market, with most of its initial attempts failing miserably. It is easy to find Starbucks coffee shops almost everywhere in the United States, Europe, and even parts of Asia, but not in Australia.
Such a situation may have been motivated by the fact that the company, in 2008, tried to establish its outlets in Australia, but unfortunately, its ventures failed to maneuver due to the lack of cultural differences between the United States and Australia.
Starbucks, which is famous for its high-quality Arabica coffee and specialty coffee, was forced to close over 70% of its underperforming outlets in Australia after the company tried to push its cultural worldview on the Australians, who already have a thriving coffee culture that they love.
Early this year, Starbucks continued with its journey into Australia by reinventing several aspects of its brand features, business model, and communication approaches to attract the Australian coffee customer who has remained adamant in their refusal to shift from the Australian coffee culture to the American coffee culture. Starbucks is still offering its Arabica coffee but now with a different approach that requires a systematic strategy that would assist the company in gaining momentum and breaking the cultural conflict that had initially affected its start-up operations back in 2008.
While settling in Australia, reports revealed that Starbucks was even unable to integrate a suitable working team that blends well with the American communication and workplace norms. At one time, native Australian workers who worked for Starbucks were in constant disagreement with their American counterparts. In an organization with such a cultural blend, communication differences may arise due to cultural differences.
As a communication and business consultant, the company has contracted me to develop a nonverbal approach to help address communication problems among the lower service-line workers, who have persistently demonstrated communication misunderstandings between the American-born workers and the Australian-born workers. Most of these workers have had little opportunities to explore the communication differences that exist between them.
However, Australia is an egalitarian society, and each member of the community feels equal to any other members of high rank. On several occasions, the Australians working in Starbucks have often received the direct commands from Americans in higher ranks within the service line negatively (Buttrose 25). As a communication expert who has interacted with both American and Australian workers on various occasions, my expertise is essential in addressing the communication dilemma that is bewildering Starbucks in its service line.
Explanation of the Non-verbal Communication
Non-verbal communication involves the use of behaviors or elements apart from speech to transmit meaning from one person to another (Riggio and Feldman 22). This can include facial expressions, gestures, haptic communication, proxemics, body language and posture, and eye gaze, among other non-verbal cues (Key 12). My expertise is needed in Starbucks Australia, as non-verbal communication can be crucial in enhancing or supplanting the verbal communication. This is particularly relevant because most Australians working at Starbucks seem to have difficulty understanding the American accent of their coworkers.
Many of the American employees at Starbucks still retain their American accents, which come across as rather commanding to most of the Australian workers in the same business environment (Buttrose 25). This has led to cultural and communication differences, which in turn have resulted in relational conflicts within the organization.
As an expert in cross-cultural and non-verbal communication, I am keen on addressing five key areas that can greatly improve communication within the company, if carefully considered. These areas include communication and non-verbal behavior, physical appearance, gestures and body movements, facial expressions and their functions, and personality differences. Understanding communication and non-verbal behavior is particularly vital considering the communication challenges experienced at Starbucks’s Australian outlets (Riggio and Feldman 22).
Communication and non-verbal behavior are closely interlinked and should be given due attention. Successful communication is attainable if Starbucks pays attention to these factors (Riggio and Feldman 22). Non-verbal communication relies on non-verbal cues to pass and receive messages, allowing ideas to be shared through actions, facial expressions, gestures, haptic communication, proxemics, body language and posture, and eye gaze, among other non-verbal cues (Key 12).
Non-verbal communication plays a crucial role at Starbucks. It provides staff the ability to pass messages simultaneously, an action that often results in positive reciprocation. Alongside this, physical appearance significantly influences communication (Key 12). A person’s physical appearance is the first point of contact in any interaction, capable of fostering or fracturing relationships and considerably influencing our willingness or reluctance to communicate (Krueger 32). Acknowledging this influence will streamline communication between the Australians and the Americans working at Starbucks.
Gestures and body movements are also key to non-verbal communication. Australians are well-versed in interpreting facial expressions and the meanings they convey. Active use of appropriate facial expressions at Starbucks will act as a key communication signal, signifying emotions such as acceptance, disbelief or sincerity (Krueger 32). Given their egalitarian and autonomous nature, Australians can use these expressions to feel more comfortable and at home at Starbucks. Additionally, recognizing and respecting personality differences could also greatly improve interaction and communication between the American and Australian workers at Starbucks.
Eye Contact – Australians highly value democracy, openness, and egalitarian principles. The most effective way to communicate with an Australian is by maintaining eye contact, which fosters trust and effectively conveys the intended message (Buttrose 17). Therefore, it’s important for Starbucks employees to make and maintain eye contact when interacting with their Australian colleagues. This will facilitate better understanding and deliver the intended sense, message, and ideas effectively.
Facial expressions: Individuals working at Starbucks Australia may be experiencing communication differences due to verbal difficulties experienced in accent and message interpretation between Australians and Americans. Facial expressions are important because, apart from the message carried through verbal communication, the face can send important clues about what is required of a person. Experts believe that the eyes are the window to the soul, and the face is a billboard that advertises a person’s emotions, moods, and attitudes.
Tone and Sound in Gestures: Australians believe in democracy, and their communication involves pleas, not commands (Lewis 8). In organisations such as Starbucks, where Australian-born workers and American-born workers are experiencing some difficulties in their verbal communication, the tone and sound that accompany gestures must convey respect, humility, and affection for colleagues (Lewis 8). When used carefully, tones can influence interactions between these workers.