“We secretly have done blind taste tests in Starbucks stores and discovered that Starbucks expensive coffee tastes not better than instant coffee.”
I can imagine this experiment and campaign from Starbucks competitors.
But it was Howard Schultz who sets-up a blind taste tests in Starbucks stores to prove that expensive Starbucks’s coffee is not better than instant coffee.
This is the dream of every Starbucks competitor.
Instant coffee is the antithesis to Starbucks’s strategy
The strategy of Starbucks is to be expensive Italian style coffeehouse. This is a wonderful strategy and it brings to Starbucks its fame.
The essence of this strategy is to resist all cheap things in coffee.
In customers mind, an instant coffee is cheap coffee. Customers think that it is lower quality than espresso and tastes not so good than “real” coffee.
So, if Starbucks confesses that their coffee tastes the same or worse than instant coffee, I will suspect that Howard Schultz is working for competitors, not for Starbucks.
“Instant coffee is practically the antithesis of everything Starbucks stands for,” writes Kate Klonick on SmartMoney. I can’t express better. Bigger antithesis of Starbucks is only “coffee” from roasted acorns or wheat.
What Starbucks competitors should do?
“Starbucks coffee quality dropped to instant coffee quality, so come to our special coffee store” – this kind of message should Starbucks competitors spread. Especially small independent coffee stores. This will be the start of the end of Starbucks.
Schultz believes that “people have so much trust in our brand and the coffee delivers, we have something I think that people want to hear about.”
Yes, instant coffee drinkers maybe impressed and will switch from other instant coffee brand to the new Starbucks Via. But at the same time people who are loyal Starbucks customers will be offended. And good marketing campaign can switch some of them from Starbucks to other coffee stores.
Starbucks instant coffee Via may succeed as high-priced instant coffee. It can be a hit, a big player in instant coffee market. But in the same time it will hurt the Starbucks brand. It opens doors for the “expensive in the taste, not only in the price” competitor. Because perception is everything, taste is nothing.
The start of the end of Starbucks?
General Motors has done such brand diluting steps in past decades, so we have the consequences. Now the founder of Starbucks started to dilute Starbucks brand only couple decades after the foundation. How long will it take him to destroy the brand? It depends on further steps.
What Howard Schultz should do further in order to completely destroy Starbucks brand? There are my suggestions:
1. Start selling cheap coffee along with expensive coffee in Starbucks stores.
2. Launch a coffee-flavored Starbucks cola.
3. Launch a coffee-flavored Starbucks ketchup.
4. Launch a coffee-flavored Starbucks dogs food.
5. Run blind taste tests in Starbucks stores to find that expensive Starbucks espresso tastes no better than coffee made from roasted mix of acorns and wheat.
What else? What are your suggestions? Please write in comments.