Thursday, November 15, 2012


All too often, I feel like the dumbest person on the planet. I am disregarded in many ways. But, this news about Starbucks and Teavana is very interesting. Here's my comment to a conversation in 2007, and 2009.

  • I think this report is a good approach at addressing the essential aspects of the brand that have led to the unusual success of Starbucks. The inclusion of marketing concepts like aroma show the complexity of their brand appeal, and the expertise of John and Paul, with respect to addressing these current sales issues.   However, I don’t think their problem has to do much with product or process, but evolution. Once Coca-Cola had done all they could do for the soft-drink, they tried to create the New Coke to get beyond the stagnation they were experiencing in the market. They brought back Classic Coke with great success, but that still didn’t address the problem. It wasn’t until they began to diversify their product line and expand their brand to different beverage market segments that movement began to happen again for them.The most amazing thing about the Starbucks phenomenon is the speed of their growth, but its growth nonetheless. I’m not sure they can do much more to improve on what they have accomplished, with respect to the retail experience. I would rather see them begin to expand their brand from maximizing the coffee experience to maximizing the warm-beverage experience. By expanding into the tea market and emphasizing “relaxing stimulation”, I believe they would find more success than improving on something that has succeeded beyond the understanding of the market.I’m a big fan of Teavana, which in my opinion is a spinoff of the Starbucks experience. They’ve taken the tea concept and built a great product and accessory line around it. As I see this retail newcomer expand in the U.S., I realize the product cycle for these types of retail environments is coming to an eventual end, in terms of unusual growth. Before the Starbucks concept totally loses its appeal, why not acquire an alternative experience like Teavana to support the brands mission to enhance the warm-beverage experience?Although Starbucks didn’t invent coffee, I believe their strongest segments (obviously without justifiable research data) value both innovation and exploration. I would venture to say the average Starbucks customer is progressive, compared to the norm, but they lack the time to explore authentic and culturally-enhancing products. Through convenience and iron-clad mainstream brand control, Starbucks has offered this opportunity for Americans to consider themselves unique and different, in a mainstream way. To capitalize on this appeal, I think, would create various opportunities that are not available to existing companies who have failed to initially address the cultural, explorative and enlightening aspects that the “New America” values today.Again, I’m a novice at this, but I hope this helps.
  • Kenyatta … I agree totally with you that the problems SBUX is facing has a lot to do with its hyper-speed evolution. In the past, it would take business six-decades to reach the place SBUX did in three-decades.Not sure the tea opportunity is big enough to make a difference at SBUX. Since we are talking tea, I have to express my disappointment in how SBUX has handled the TAZO brand. SBUX bought the offbeat but high-quality TAZO tea brand in around 2000. They’ve buried it. They’ve homogenized the funky TAZO personality–the package redesigns have sucked the creative soul outta the tazo brand). They’ve blown it with TAZO. TAZO is irrelevant to SBUX. Back in the day we SBUX-marketers were hoping the company would open up TAZO retail stores, but they didn’t.Teavana has been increasing their presence. I’ve been to a few and found them to be adequate. But adequate ain’t good enough. They do nothing remarkable beyond selling tea. It seems they are trying too hard to be the SBUX of Tea than to be the Teavana of Tea. Dig?

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