Instant Starbucks Isn’t Starbucks

The Starbucks mission is “To inspire and nurture the human spirit— one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.” (the italics are mine) Notice that “person” comes before “cup.” Starbucks.com says, “When we are fully engaged, we connect with, laugh with, and uplift the lives of our customers— even if just for a few moments. Sure, it starts with the promise of a perfectly made beverage, but our work goes far beyond that. It’s really about human connection.” Bravo, that’s a good mission statement.

This week Starbucks introduced VIA, an instant coffee mix – just add water. But where’s the human connection?starbucksvia1

The press release says it’s “a transformational instant coffee that replicates the body and flavor of Starbucks coffee in an instant form.
“While some instant coffees use lower-quality coffee beans and add chemicals and by-products, Starbucks VIA Ready Brew is 100% natural roasted coffee, made without preservatives. As with all Starbucks coffee, Starbucks VIA Ready Brew is made with the highest quality coffee beans sourced from the top 3 percent of the world’s coffee supply. In developing Starbucks VIA Ready Brew, Starbucks developed a proprietary, patent-pending technology to preserve the coffee’s taste, quality and freshness.”

The release quotes Professor John Quelch of Harvard Business School, who says that VIA will “offer non-Starbucks users an affordable entry point into the Starbucks world; after trying Starbucks VIA, they may want to visit a store for the full Starbucks experience.”

CUPS DOWN! The “Starbucks world” IS the experience and/or the human connection. It’s the tribe with an initiation process with secret words like “tall” means small, “grande” means medium, and “venti” means large.

The quality and taste of Starbucks coffee is arguable and imitatible; the coffee is NOT the “Starbucks world” as Professor Quelch suggests. The Starbucks world is the consumer experience and the human connection, and that is undeniable and unique.

Has anyone tasted VIA yet? Do you taste the instant human connection?

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2 Responses

  1. […] 23, 2009 Check out a great WordPress blog entry by Scott Sherman about Starbucks […]

  2. I am concerned about Starbuck’s strong-arm tactics and the scripted “conversations” used on customers to sell the new product. They show a rather sad view of the customer (as well as other people). I strongly recommend the following blog’s post: http://deligentia.wordpress.com/2009/11/13/starbucks/

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