One of the major social forces driving organizations to change is the green movement. People are becoming more and more concerned with preserving the environment and having less of an impact on the planet. Starbucks has responded to this concern by requiring that their suppliers meet their criteria for sustainable development. Starbucks has created a partnership with Conservation International to focus on environmental protection and another partnership with Green Teams to institute company-wide recycling, waste reduction, and energy and water conservation programs.
Another major social trend that will affect Starbucks, particularly in the US, is the growing concern over health and eating habits. There have been major studies done on the positive and negative effects of many foods, including coffee, and Starbucks needs to take steps to ensure that it is not labeled as an unhealthy food. Other companies in the same situation such as McDonalds tried to keep customer loyalty by adding menu items like fresh fruits and vegetables. Starbucks may need to look into taking a similar course of action by adding healthy substitutes to its menu.
In scanning social forces it is impossible not to note the increased amount of business being done online. While Starbucks is a retail business, it should look to maximize any type of interactive presence online. Products are currently for sale on their website but it could benefit from any other type of attraction that will draw people to the site and spend time there. It could also benefit from an aggressive search engine optimization strategy to ensure that anyone who is searching for terms related to its products or services arrives at the site.
Whenever large “super chains” move into a town there is always the fear from the community that it will mean the end of the smaller local-based businesses because they cannot compete with the larger corporations. This has resulted in some campaigns to boycott the larger chains and support smaller, but more expensive, businesses. Where this could become a larger trend, it will be important for Starbucks to minimize people classifying it in this category. Starbucks has current programs that help with this; for instance, it has programs where for every hour of time one of the employees volunteer at a local charity, Starbucks will donate a proportional amount of money. Starbucks also tries to sponsor local charitable and community programs in an effort to be seen positively be members of the local community.