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Marketing,Wine

Starbucks to Experiment with Selling Wine

Seattle Starbucks - Turner
Image by ctoverdrive via Flickr

The following is according to Breaking News 24/7:

Starbucks is planning to add beer and wine to its menu, according to reports.

But wait, don’t start planning your alcohol breaks just yet.

Apparently, the retailer is testing the beer and wine option in one of its Seattle stores – a plan if successful may make Starbucks expand such stores across the country.

The Seattle store will be renamed “15th Ave. Coffee and Tea inspired by Starbucks,” which is the name of the neighborhood where it is located, reports The New York Daily News.

“We’ll be equally as proud of our beer and wine as we are of our coffee,” Major Cohen, senior project manager at Starbucks, told USA Today.

“If you stop innovating, you’re dead,” Scott Bedbury, CEO of consulting firm Brandstream and former marketing chief at Starbucks, told the paper. (ANI)

Well… doesn’t that just beat all thoughts of the day. If this works, you can start your day with a cup of your favorite Joe (speed ‘um up), then segue in the afternoon to your favorite beer and/or wine (slow ‘um down). With the introduction of pastries, then breakfast foods, then sandwiches, it seems to me that appetizers will follow for the afternoon crowd. Imagine, nachos and beer at Starbucks?!

Stranger things have happened.

If these retro cafes work,  soon more will crop up, and the Starbucks name will be completely dropped. There won’t be a Starbucks label or sign, it will simply have a neighborhood-inspired name, that will appear also on bags of Starbucks coffee sold at the stores. The bags will reportedly still contain the same coffee as traditional Starbucks, but you’re not blatantly going to know this. So, my local Starbucks will become the Lakewood Drive Coffee and Tea Company.

Without a score card, Starbucks will morph into a mega company with no corporate identity, after all these years of marketing it as such? Hum… I can’t help but wonder if this is going to help or hurt Starbucks. I know there are some among us who want to support our local business, and therefore boycott going into a Starbucks. But, to throw the baby out with the bathwater?

The experimental store will certainly be a marketing experiment to watch.

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7 Responses to “Starbucks to Experiment with Selling Wine”

  1. David Hance says:

    Hello, Jo!

    Lots of folks talking about this. I think two marketing forces are at work in Starbucks thinking:

    1. The “buy local” anti-corporate meme that is gaining adherents during this economic recession; and,

    2. The McDonalds effort (McCafe) to drag Starbucks downmarket to capture morning market share.

    Plus, I think the coffe shop slash wine bar concept is an interesting and overdue attempt to replace the corner taverns of old as local gathering spots.

    DAH

  2. Jo says:

    Definitely interesting, David. We’ll be watching this one. One more place to get onto a wine list is a good thing… Corporate buys, no doubt, so mostly safe and sound wines.

  3. Roger says:

    Under the well documented marketing axium of positioning a business can only stand for one primary product configuration in a consumers mind. Starbucks is that with Coffee, synonomus. Wine and Coffee simply confuses the market perception or beverage product position, bad strategy.

  4. Jo says:

    Which is no doubt why they’re choosing neighborhood favorite names and/or landmarks.

    This, however, seems very tedious and a difficult segue without some tie back to tried and true.

    In Seattle, where there will be a great buzz over the development, it will do well with its fans. If there’s enough of a PR buzz that travels with each opening, tying it back, it might work… We’ll see.

    Good one to watch.

    Thanks for your comment, Roger.

  5. JJ says:

    Wow! This wine has the aroma of coffee, oh wait, that’s the person sitting next me drinking a latte.

  6. I’ll have an iced chai tea with some barrel-fermented Chardonnay, please.

  7. Jo says:

    I prefer a caramel frappachino that’s been barrel fermented. I’ve got to get outta here and get my next cup… The afternoon slowdown is fast approaching…

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