Friday, 27 February 2009

Starbucks's Via

So Starbucks has launched an instant coffee branded Via. (click story title to read) About one dollar per prepare it by adding hot (or cold ) water... where ever you want to drink it. You can only buy the Starbucks Via packets at Starbucks outlets.

Interesting. But we dont think its a useful idea.

Starbucks supposedly attributes this idea to ensuring consumers are in touch with it even in these challenging economic times, as well as drive penetration of its coffees.

We ask the question... why do folks drink at Starbucks?
1. We dont think its the coffee. Maybe a lot of folks think its the best coffee in the world, we believe its the ambiance. The experience of finding a "third place" away from home and office.

Starbucks Via encourages you to make your coffee where you want to drink it, cheap. Unless you really really love the coffee flavor, why would you spend 1$ to drink it in your office cubicle or on the couch?

2. Its participating in a brand. This is drinking at a Starbucks or taking out a coffee in a Starbucks cup, you're participating in the brand. Connectivity with a sense of empowerment. (

Great brands do this. They allow you a duality of your personal space while giving you the freedom to connect to the wider community that uses the brand. think iPod/ Nike.... your iPod has your music...its personal...but when you carry your iPod around, you are making a statement to others.

Starbucks does this (did this?) with its coffee.

Drinking a Via in my IBM mug is not the same thing. We are not connecting with the brand anymore. We will not be able to justify the premium anymore.

Unless we really really think its great coffee. We dont.

If millions of people are drinking Starbucks for the great coffee flavor and really miss that, Via will work.
If not, we think this is a flawed idea. Great for short term sales, it will not work in the medium to long term.

If you wish to read more on this please head to link below.

Ritu and Venkat

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