Saturday, May 14, 2011

New Starbucks marketing - Coffee is a Wine?

The pictures are of the latest Starbucks beans offering. I wonder if (a) that really what they are doing and (b) could such marketing be successful?

1. packaging resembles wine label (distinct name, vintage, brand and type (below, not shown))
2. appeals to floral and herbal notes of coffee (wine!)
3. describes coffee in layers of flavor (wine again!)
4. offers pairing coffee with various types of food (wine!!)
5. removed coffee styles such as bold, medium, mild, etc. (wines rarely put their basic attributes such as dry, semi-dry, etc. on the label)
6. the missing piece from standard wine label is a region (appellation)

If Starbucks intentionally decided on marketing coffee like wine it may turn out as a great marketing move. Every Starbucks is essentially a tasting room and there are plenty of coffee snobs who treat coffee very personally (nothing against them!). Baristas would need to engage customers a lot better like hosts in wine tasting (I already see this happening at few Starbucks I visit). By cultivating such culture will they  diversify their customer base, bring back coffee snobs, create coffee market resembling diverse and creative wine market?

Other questions that come to mind:
How far will (should) Starbucks go in imitating wine marketing?
What other products can benefit from the wine marketing model?
Does this model really work for coffee?

Because maybe Coffee is not a Wine  just like Ketchup is not a Mustard.

Trend continues: this picture has been taken at Starbucks in downtown Palo Alto - the back wall looks like wine racks.

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