For those of you who know me, you know that I’m slightly obsessed with Starbucks. My world feels like a better place when I have a grande, non-fat latte in my hands. So being a Starbucks lover, and a marketing exec, the launch of Starbucks Via really caught my attention. If you’re a Starbucks frequenter like me, I’m sure you’ve noticed your Starbucks has turned into a Via marketing headquarters. It is everywhere. I picked up a 3 pack ($2.95) when I was there on Saturday. I also picked up the very clever Via booklet, How Starbucks Via Can Change Your Life. The book illustrates instances where instant coffee would be extremely convenient and how Via follows the Starbucks brand goal of providing exceptional coffee to consumers. However, my big question is if Via really does?
To answer that question, I’ve put it to a taste test at the office. The results haven’t been exceptional. It was too watery the first time (yes, user-error…); the second, using the precise 8 oz., was good, but not up to snuff with the brick & mortar’s blends. There’s a great blog from Wallet Pop, another office that did a Via taste test, too. Our consensus was the same.
So just where does Via fit into the Starbucks brand? Starbucks has spent the last year telling consumers that their coffee is superior to fast coffee options. That the Starbucks experience is worth the extra money and effort because when it comes down to it, you get to have Starbucks. My assumption is that they are trying to get the non-Starbucks customer. Because the everyday Starbucks customer probably wouldn’t switch from getting their regular Starbucks to have Via. Via just isn’t as good as regular brewed Starbucks. I’m watching this product launch closely. Very interested and excited to see what happens. If you’ve done your own taste test, let us know what you think.