Monday, March 24

Alcohol at Starbucks

Following what appears to be a brief test market, Starbucks is expanding the number of outlets where it sells wine and beer.

At first glance, it may appear as a move to merely expand sales past the typical coffee hours -- like after 7:00pm.   But actually, when you think about it, there's a lot of consumer sensibility in the very strategic move.  And it's clearly a statement that the Starbucks brand stands for a lot more than coffee, something the company has been consciously working on for years.  This is just the latest move, and a smart one at that.

It makes total sense.  When you think about it, there are times when you want to meet a friend (or capture a little alone time) and potentially have a glass of wine or a beer.  But you don't necessarily want to go to a bar or a restaurant.  Perhaps you just want one glass and be able to sip it slowly.  Perhaps you don't both want alcohol.  Perhaps you don't want to deal with table service, etc.  Perhaps you want to get some work done and you need a little space and some good lighting.

Interestingly, there's none of the hard stuff ... just wine and beer.  Which also makes sense, if you think about it.  It's not a full service bar, just a neighborhood place to grab a drink,  hang your hat and meet a friend.

Perhaps this Starbucks move is exactly what people need.

So grabbing a glass of wine from a Barista and and sitting at a table for a bit makes perfect sense.  Tasting a few of their shareable small plates makes total sense as well ... let's hope they're "shareably" delicious (something else the brand has been working on for years as well).

Starbucks has stumbled onto an unmet need, I believe.  And for that, I applaud the brand once again.  Serving unmet consumer needs is what marketing is all about, especially if you are trying to expand your brand.

What's your experience?  JIM.

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