Last Friday, I expressed my worry to Starbucks via their My Starbucks Idea social networking site, and I said I would post their response.
Here's what I said:
I'm worried for you guys... I think instant coffee diminishes your brand. I feel like it will hurt you in the eyes of your consumer base that thinks of Starbucks as an artisan coffee or even just a higher-end coffee brand. This automatically takes you one notch down in my eyes. I'm sure you've considered that and weighed the pros and cons. I'd be interested to hear what the consumer research showed that made you think offering instant coffee was a good idea.
And here's what they said:
2/16/2009 7:43 AM
AdrienneWaldo: nah, it's not going to diminish Starbucks, VIA is going to raise the view of instant. :)
I've never tried the "VIA." What if it's the most amazing thing since cafe au lait? All I'm saying is I'm skeptical. To me just the idea of instant coffee (however awesome it may be) at a coffee shop that wants to be viewed as high-end is going to hurt the brand.
Also, notice the conspicuous lack of response to my question about consumer research. I assure you there are very few Starbucks consumers who responded "yes - I would be interested in trying Starbucks instant coffee." That is, of course, assuming that they did consumer research in the first place. This stinks of bad corporate money-making scheme with no regard to consumer opinions.