I'm a Star with a Starbucks

Starbucks has broken the stranglehold of the burger and fries triumvirate, McDonald's, Burger King and Wendy's, and become the third-largest chain restaurant in domestic sales in the US, according to an article I read from USA Today.

The article, entitled Starbucks sales pass BK, Wendy's, said that the coffee kingpin has leaped ahead of Burger King and Wendy's and now ranks behind only McDonald's and Subway in total 2010 US sales.

What has contributed to the success of Starbucks? Sandra Stark, the company's vice president of food, said that one key is an ongoing shift in how consumers define "healthy". She said that people's idea of healthy food has evolved from low-calorie and low-fat to food whose ingredients they can understand and pronounce. Starbucks, she said, was among the first chains to remove all artificial ingredients from its food.

While that may well be true, the more important reason for Starbucks's growth may be a matter of image. As Ron Paul, president of Technomic, the research firm that just released the listing of America's top 500 restaurant chains in total 2010 domestic sales, said: "Carrying a Starbucks cup in your hand says something about you as a person."

"Starbucks keeps gaining and gaining," says Ron Paul, president of Technomic. "Carrying a Starbucks cup in your hand says something about you as a person."

Obviously, people pay the relatively high price not just for a sip of the coffee but also for the impression that carrying a paper cup with that logo creates.

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