October 26, 2010

Brews and Booze

Starbucks recently announced it will serve regional wine and beer, starting in its home city of Seattle. In an experimental trial, the company renovated a store in Seattle’s busy Capitol Hill area and stocked it with new beverage offerings as well as a selection of local cheeses. In addition to the new menu, the barista bar has been rebuilt to seat customers closer to the coffee.

USA TODAY mentioned that the revamped store looks less like a Starbucks and more like a cafe that’s been part of the neighborhood for years. Muted color palettes, dim lighting and an overall low-key design seem to contradict the entire Starbucks brand.

From the bright green logo to the unique language spoken when ordering drinks, Starbucks has always distinguished itself from other coffee shops. Why then after years of standing out, would Starbucks want to fit in?

Scott Bedbury, marketing chief for both Starbucks and Nike in the 1990s, told USA TODAY that evolution is critical for Starbucks and that wine sales could bring in “latte-like” profits. “Brands have to evolve or die,” he said. “It’s a tall order. But if anyone can pull it off, it will be Starbucks.”

Bedburry is not alone in thinking evolution is critical. Other brands such as Belk underwent major changes this year. For now caffeinated customers across the country will have to wait and see if Starbucks stores in other cities will get a makeover similar to Seattle. I wonder if wine will come in Tall, Grande and Venti sizes?


  1. Angela   October 26, 2010 10:18 am / Reply

    I think it will work in some of the Starbucks locations but certainly not all. It will be nice to have the option during late night coffee dates to have a glass of wine or a latte. And perhaps it will make those long coffee shop study sessions go a bit faster! 😀

  2. Denise   October 26, 2010 11:16 am / Reply

    Good move…Starbucks can now approach building the ambiance for social gathering that European cafes have always had.

  3. Mark   October 26, 2010 6:15 pm / Reply

    I will start going to Starbucks if they begin serving cheese.

  4. Wei   October 28, 2010 11:26 am / Reply

    I think this is an interesting move for the company and I think it could work! Starbucks is good at selling an experience. The company is also pretty innovative with their products – several Starbucks consumers that don’t like coffee are loyal to the brand (think Pumpkin Spice Latte, frappes, etc.). People enjoy the Starbucks experience… pretty soon, they’ll be enjoying their experience over wine and free wi-fi!

    Now, if they could just work on improving the quality of their food…

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