Starbucks Marketing Via Taste Tests: Crazy Like A Fox
The Retail Doctor
This week Starbucks’
Via instant coffee arrived and the chain is expecting 10 million consumers
to visit its 7,500 company-run cafes to participate in a taste test this
the CEO of Starbucks said, “I’ve been fooling people for almost a year
now. This is not your grandmother’s instant coffee. The quality of Via
is a mirror image of the quality and taste of Starbucks brewed coffee.”
Starbucks’ launch so interesting is that I can’t think of
one other brand trying to get you to try their cheaper version and then
proudly saying you can’t tell the difference. It’s like RL POLO or Coach
telling people their outlet stores had the exact same merchandise.
This is not
like GAP owning Old Navy but defying someone to tell the difference.
GAP realizes they are covering two distinct markets that have some overlap
and my guess is so does Starbucks. But Starbucks is crazy like a fox.
Now I have
to confess to RetailWire readers, when this was first announced I chimed
in with, "This thing is struggling to keep the wheels on. They already ceded
to McDonald’s earlier this week with their ‘value’ menu.’" I’ve changed my
Do they expect
the Starbucks customer will switch to instant? Probably not but it gave
them the opportunity to come back to the market with lots of press and
offers to their 4 million Facebook Fans. What was the hook?
You have to
come in to the stores to taste it.
expecting a lot of customers Friday through Monday. And while
they’re there they also may become reacquainted with their addictive
habit of their morning coffee.
The first thing
that went during the recession for some were the indulgences of specialty
coffee; a weekly habit can cost $1000 a year. It’s not a secret that
their traffic counts are down; this may just be the gimmick to bring
those who have built Starbucks into one of the most easily recognized
brands in the world back to the cup.
Sure, Via is
a product that is targeted to the 21 billion international fast food
and vending machine markets but who wouldn’t choose a Starbucks out of
a vending machine at your mechanic’s over the swill that had been sitting
on a burner for two days?
still puzzling why Starbucks would “push instant” at the expense of their
premium brand. Crazy like a fox.
could have just as easily sent packets in the mail for you to try or
bundled it with your morning newspaper. But they knew the goal of their
event: to get people to come back to the store and rebuild a brand sorely
in need of a jolt.
What do you think of Starbucks tying the launch of Via instant coffee
to its stores? Are there other instances of a premium brand equating
their lesser brand and, if so, did it result in additional sales?