Desperate times call for desperate measures, and established brands like Starbucks are not immune to change. But when the change is not for the better, some marketing strategies and choices can only raise questions. The East Olive Way Starbucks in Seattle has recently announced that it will start selling beer and wine, the first coffee shop in the Starbuks chain to offer alcohol, and possibly not the last, according to various media reports – although the company officials declined to say how soon this idea will spread elsewhere.
The East Olive Way Starbucks will serve craft beer and local wines, but only after 4 p.m. This is an effort to attract more customers after the morning espresso rush. This shop is one of the first to also get a new interior decor, with local rustic touches – this because Starbucks is making a conscious effort to distance itself from its competition by reclaiming the feeling of an artisan cafe. But with wine and alcohol, the café becomes a restaurant. The whole business concept that made Starbucks an iconic brand has changed.
There are obvious positive changes in the new concept, like adding the rustic touches that create a more intimate place for the customers, using recycled materials in its buildings and so on. Serving alcoholic beverages doesn’t seem to be a positive though, despite the fact that the official press release states that the move was inspired by the company’s own customers:
The coffee-centric design brings customers closer to the coffee, allowing them to better experience the theater of our handcrafted beverages. We are also offering an expanded food menu at the store as well as wine and beer. This is in response to our customers telling us that they want more options for relaxing in our stores in the afternoon and evenings and reflects what we’ve learned from our “learning lab” stores, 15th Avenue Coffee and Tea and Roy Street Coffee and Tea, also in Seattle.
Feature image courtesy Amy Rolph/Seattlepi.com