Oct 6, 2009

Starbucks Via — instant success?

by Katy Palmer

As an avid coffee consumer, I make serious attempts to stay away from two types of the “good ole Joe” — decaf and instant. I joke that both are a waste of money, because when I want a cup of coffee, I mean I want a “real” cup of coffee.

Starbucks already has decaf, which it sells alongside its regular drip brews. However, the caffeine corporation is going nationwide with a new item.

Eight months ago, Starbucks introduced its first instant coffee, simply called “Via,” to stores in Seattle and Chicago. Based on its success, the corporation is now ready to make Via available for purchase from coast to coast in the United States and Canada. (As a side note, the company would not release its exact sales of its opening campaign but promised that sales
exceeded expectations).

Starbucks has a tough crowd to please. Statistics echo my sentiment towards the instant drink, as Americans in general seem willing to wait the extra minute for the drip brew, because they associate it with higher quality, according to Fox News. Europeans however, seem to prefer instant coffee to drip brew, as 80 percent of coffee sales in the UK are instant coffee, according to Fox News.

But, the company is confident its elaborate campaign will prove successful. To launch Via, Starbucks arranged for a large-scale distribution of Via to over 1,500 sites outside of its stores, according to Fox News.

I cannot speak for everyone, but one thing I do know that is when I go to Starbucks, very rarely do I buy plain-old coffee. If I am taking to time to go out for some good java, I plan to spend the extra couple of dollars on a shot of espresso with a little bit of flavoring.

The company is making the right decision by exporting Via to places other than chain stores. This is where Starbucks will make the majority of its profits. When I shop for groceries, I always think convenience. What I can purchase that takes the least amount of preparation possible? I will venture to say most of us as college students make purchases with this question in mind. For this reason, I think sales of the Via will spike in the college demographic, at least for a little while.

Even though I jokingly consider myself a coffee connoisseur, I have purchased Folgers’ Instant Coffee in the past. And I must admit, it satisfied my taste buds, and gave me a needed caffeine rush. But I cannot promise I could live off it every day.

Certainly Starbucks will make a decent penny off of Via. But will Starbucks Via truly be a success? Instantly, yes. But its popularity will fizzle out once people realize they just want the real thing.

Contact Katy Palmer at kapalmer@liberty.edu.

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