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Starbucks Expands Beer and Wine Sales in U.S.

Posted by Shirley Brady on January 23, 2012 05:01 PM

As we noted last month, Starbucks has been quietly testing beer and wine sales in a handful of markets including Portland, Oregon, in order to woo customers during quieter "day parts" (read: after the coffee rush tails off in the mid-afternoon and into the evening). Today the brand confirmed the expansion of its U.S. locations introducing alcoholic beverages along with small plates of artisanal food such as dessert and cheese pairings (more details in its press release below).

Spiking its coffee menu with alcohol “makes sense if you think of the way that McDonald’s grew its business by going into breakfast” and specialty coffees, Interbrand SVP Bill Chidley commented to Bloomberg“At a certain point, you need to grow revenue, you need to give people other reasons to come in.” The challenge: getting customers to expand their perception of Starbucks; and selling alcohol may turn off some families with children, he said. “It certainly is going to be controversial," Chidley added.

How Starbucks competitors respond will be closely watched. Can Drunkin Donuts be far behind?

Starbucks to Extend Evening Day Part Concept

(SEATTLE, January 23, 2012) Responding to customer feedback for more options to relax in its stores in the evenings, Starbucks Coffee Company (NASDAQ:SBUX) today announced plans to bring wine, beer and premium food offerings to a handful of locations in Atlanta and Southern California by the end of this year. These stores, along with several others recently announced for the Chicago area, will be the first extensions of the evening day-part concept outside of the Pacific Northwest.

“Building an evening day-part is a natural progression for us as we are always looking for ways to evolve and enhance the Starbucks Experience based on what our customers are telling us,” said Clarice Turner, senior vice president, U.S. Operations. “We’re pleased with the response of our customers to the introduction of wine, beer and premium food at several of our stores in the Pacific Northwest, and we’re excited to see how the idea translates to other markets.”

Since first introducing the evening day-part concept at its Olive Way location in Seattle in October 2010, Starbucks has seen success creating a new occasion for customers later in the day through an expanded food and beverage menu. Five stores in the Seattle area and one in Portland, Oregon currently serve wine, beer and premium food. Late last year, Starbucks announced plans to bring the concept to five to seven locations in the Chicago area by the end of 2012. Atlanta and Southern California will each see four to six stores, also by the end of the year.

As part of an enhanced menu, these stores will serve new premium food (including savory snacks, small plates, and hot flatbreads) as well as wine and beer. The wine and beer list will be hand-selected to reflect local customer tastes and preferences, and will be refined over time. In addition to providing a product assortment not traditionally found at Starbucks, these stores will incorporate flexible seating to accommodate individuals and small groups as well as larger parties that want to host community meetings or other events such as book clubs.

“As our customers transition from work to home, many are looking for a warm and inviting place to unwind and connect with the people they care about,” said Turner. “At select stores where it is relevant for the neighborhood, we are focused on creating an atmosphere where our customers can relax with a friend, a small bite to eat and a cup of coffee or glass of wine.”

At this time, the evening day-part concept is only focused on Atlanta, the Chicago area, Southern California, and the Pacific Northwest.


Nancy Jay United States says:

This strikes me as off-brand -- Baristas are now becoming Bartenders too? Just call it Barbucks and call it a day!

January 23, 2012 11:06 PM #

Barry United States says:

"Drunkin Donuts" is the winning phrase here...

January 24, 2012 09:28 AM #

Mike United States says:

I think it's a logical extension.  You're really limiting the hours customers want to visit you with only coffee and tea.  If they would've gone all the way by adding liquor, that probably would've been too much. But wine and beer are a good play, in my opinion.  If this rolls out to a great extent, watch for Starbucks labeled wine and beer selections.

January 24, 2012 10:52 AM #

Ci United States says:

It seems the more judicious choice would be the typical 4-8pm aperitifs (Campari, Cinzano, Sherry and Champagne) similar to a true Italian espresso bar.... and/or transition to liqueurs which are typically added to coffees -- Baileys, Grand Marnier, Amaretto, Drambuie

January 28, 2012 05:51 AM #

jane United States says:

I think they are making a huge mistake and I hope they don't do this is New York. First of all, yes, it may turn off families, but even more than that, it will turn off a TON of people. In New York, for example, MANY people use Starbucks to have a quiet cup of coffee and talk or read the newspaper or use their computers. MANY people use Starbucks to have interviews because they don't have office space available. NO ONE can concentrate on any of those things if there are rowdy loud drunks yelling! If people need to have a drink, there is NO SHORTAGE of bars! There is absolutely no need for this. Starbucks is losing sight of WHO their customer is. I think this will blow up in their faces.

January 28, 2012 09:19 AM #

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