The country's most ubiquitous coffee shop is about to become even more
so. Starbucks is expanding
its business to more than
30,000 distribution points, up from 3,000, by the end of the fiscal
year. The strategy hinges on selling a milder brand of coffee at
everyday stores like Burger King, Subway and movie theaters. The blander
coffee is called Seattle's Best and it's already being re-branded to
suit more middle-class palettes
- Smart Decision: Won't Erode the Brand, applauds Douglas McIntyre at 24/7 Wall
Street: "The move is strategically sound. It allows Starbucks to expand
its base of sales without sullying the company’s core high-end name.
Starbucks coffee can continue to be sold at high prices at its own
stores and select retail outlets. Seattle’s Best creates a new brand
that stands on its own. Its success or failure, particularly a failure,
will not change the public’s perception of Starbucks flagship products."
a Concerted Effort to Appeal to Middle Class, observes Dawn Kawamoto at Daily Finance:
"Starbucks, despite its saturation of stores, carries a flavor with a
powerful punch that does not necessarily translate into a taste for the
masses -- hence, its acquisition of local rival Seattle's Best, in a $72
million stock and cash deal... Since its acquisition, Seattle's Best
had maintained its own artful brand, but Starbucks is now retooling it
with a far more simplified logo that carries a look that will likely
appeal to the Target shopper, aka the everyday guy and gal."
Won't Be Caught Dead With Starbucks! suggests Gawker's Hamilton Nolan. With an air of
condescension, the Manhattan blogger bemoans the new "hobofied"
Starbucks: "This brand erosion make Starbucks' middlebrow future almost
too horrifying to contemplate... If every uncouth truck-driver has his
onion ring-thickened meaty paws wrapped around a Starbucks-affiliated
product... Starbucks truly has taken its niche evil to an entirely new
and more alarming level."
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