For some time, Starbucks has been trying to get US consumers to think of it as more than just a place to get a java jolt. While it has had some success in reframing itself in the UK, Americans haven’t been so quick to adjust. The brand will be giving it another whirl with a big push in coming months to its customer experience.
Starbucks is expanding its Evenings program to more than 2,000 of its 12,000 US locations in the coming months, reports USA Today. The effort, as detailed by Starbucks (see below), includes a new menu of beer, wine and small plates of artisanal bites to accompany the drinks. After all, snacks are 50 percent of what Americans eat every day so there was no need for Starbucks to create a full-on restaurant experience.
The big question for Starbucks is whether it can change behavior. The US test locations have proved popular with women, as 60 percent of Evenings customers are female. Pilot stores have also seen book groups, knitting circles and Bible-study groups popping up, as well as online daters meeting for the first time. Others are tested music and wine/coffee tastings as a way to draw in a less harried group of customers who welcome the opportunity to linger and relax.
The US expansion of Evenings is also affecting the way Starbucks is designing its stores. An attempt is being made for each location to represent its own surrounding community more, sometimes simply through the decorative art choices or the beer and wine selection, while seating is being reconfigured to create more flexibility for different day parts, as in its Williamsburg, Brooklyn store above.
“It’s becoming really important for us to have different types of seating that can be used by our customers throughout the day,” Claudia Woods, a senior store designer for Starbucks, told USA Today. “As it becomes evening, the lounge seating is more important for larger groups. We always make sure we have community tables where people can sit together and have a glass of wine and have a conversation.”
Starbucks has taken a day-part strategy with its menu and programming for some time in the US, creating “bistro boxes” to cater to on-the-go customers. This summer, for example, it introduced an Omega-3 Bistro Box as well as a Prosciutto and Mozzarella Pinwheel Bistro Box. Now those same customers are being invited back for a leisurely evening repast.
Below, Starbucks shares 10 facts about the evolution of its US Evenings program:
1. In 2010, Seattle customers were the first to experience the Starbucks Evenings menu.
Starbucks® Olive Way location in Seattle was the first to feature the Evenings menu, offering customers a familiar place to gather later in the day.
2. There’s a demand for the casual meeting environment in the evening hours and Starbucks Evenings menu satisfies that need.
Starbucks customers are already enjoying coffee at our stores in the evening, and now, they have more menu options including wine, craft beer and small plates.
3. Starbucks Coffee Quality team tastes 300-600 cups of coffee each day and influenced the process for selecting wines for the Evenings stores.
Starbucks® Coffee Quality team has some of the most refined palates in the coffee business, working daily to define flavor profiles and ensure coffee quality and consistency. Starbucks took the same approach when curating the wine menu through a small team of Starbucks sensory experts who tasted more than 500 wines to determine the 10 best to feature on the Evenings menu.
4. The Starbucks Evenings wine assortment was developed by Starbucks in-house Sommelier.
Rachel Antalek, Starbucks in-house sommelier, led the Evenings team as they explored the world of wine, looking for the most interesting assortment that’s not only delicious, but a great value as well. The team evaluated different varietals of wine to offer the complex and unique flavors that customers expect from Starbucks.
5. The Starbucks Evenings menu varies per region.
The Evenings wine and craft beer assortment is a reflection of the tastes in a variety of regions across the U.S. For instance, in the Pacific Northwest, customers will find Malbec, Alamos, Argentina and craft beer from Maritime Brewery, Old Seattle Lager. Those in Chicago are offered Malbec, Terrazas, Argentina and craft beer from Goose Island, Chicago, Goose IPA. This results in a combination of local and regional favorites that rotate over time.
6. Starbucks customers are also wine enthusiasts.
70 percent of Starbucks customers drink wine, as compared to 30 percent of the general U.S. population, according to Mintel Insights for Wine, January 2014. Providing another occasion for these customers to visit Starbucks during the evening hours was natural for Starbucks – giving them a place to start and end their day.
7. Research shows that Starbucks customers love beer too.
Starbucks customers are two times more likely to drink craft beer than the national average, according to Mintel Insights for Craft Beer, June 2014. They’re showing the same interest in the uniqueness of local and regional craft beers as they have for Starbucks® regional coffees.
8. Starbucks collaborated with wine chefs to develop the Evenings menu.
Three square meals is a thing of the past. Consumer eating habits have evolved into a pattern of grazing or small snacks throughout the day, which helped influence the small plate assortment in Evenings stores. Starbucks partnered with various wine chefs to identify the perfect complement to the wine and beer assortment as well as coffees. From Truffle Mac and Cheese and Chicken Sausage and Mushroom Flatbread to Bacon Wrapped Dates with Balsamic Glaze – these options are delicious and less than 500 calories each.
9. Starbucks Evenings stores feature distinct design elements.
Starbucks® Evenings stores provide an inviting atmosphere for unwinding in the evening. Designers focused on experiential elements, such as innovative lighting, community tables that encourage conversation, soft seating, warm colors, and local art when developing these stores.
10. Customer requests influenced the development of Starbucks Evenings stores.
Starbucks has found that customers are spending a great deal of time in our stores during the afternoon and early evening. Their needs are reflected in the overall Evenings experience. From the menu to the environment, it’s purely influenced by extending the Starbucks Experience in the right way during the evening hours.