Posted by Stephanie Startz on October 12, 2009 07:33 PM
While initial consumer reaction is warm, does Starbucks' new instant Via warrant a decaf companion?
Reporting that Via has "exceeded expectations" after two weeks on the market, Starbucks today announced a decaffeinated option to their new instant coffee line by mid-November. Hoping to further bolster fourth-quarter sales. Starbucks is offering decaf Via just in time for the holiday season.
The rational behind Via made sense. Busy professionals need a quick, portable and cheap(er) caffeine delivery system. Twenty years in development and Starbucks delivers Via, a product that promises to be all those things and taste just like Starbucks in-store drip coffee.
But does a decaffeinated instant coffee really belong in Starbucks' stable?
We wrote earlier that Via instant coffee seems a distraction from Starbucks' more pressing priorities of shoring up the core brand, so decaf Via strikes us as even more of a wrong turn. True, Starbucks' competitor Nescafe offers instant decaf. But the very concept of competing with Nescafe works against the Starbucks brand.
Starbucks Via decaf will be packaged in the same manner as regular Starbucks Via: single serving sleeves. But why do you need decaf coffee on the go? If Starbucks feels the need to compete with Nescafe, it would make sense to package their decaf coffee similarly, in large servings that consumers could measure out. Perfect for family dinners around the holidays.
We know how you feel about Starbucks Via, so tell us: Is Starbucks Via decaf further diminishing the core brand?