Starbucks Debuts Its Via Instant Coffee Product

Posted on September 29, 2009

Starbucks ViaStarbucks is kicking off the launch of its instant coffee product called Starbucks Via with a taste challenge. From Oct. 2 - 5, Starbucks invites customers to join the Starbucks Via Ready Brew Taste Challenge at U.S. Starbucks cafes. Participants can taste Colombia Starbucks Via next to fresh-brewed Pike Place Roast and challenge themselves to guess which one is Starbucks Via. Starbucks Via Taste Challenge participants will receive a coupon for a complimentary Tall brewed coffee on their next visit as well as an offer for $1 off a Starbucks Via Ready Brew purchase.

Reuters reports that Starbucks is planning a marketing blitz timed with the arrival of Starbucks Via in stores in the U.S. and Canada this week. Starbucks wants a piece of the very large $21 billion instant coffee pie.
With Via, the coffee chain that introduced espresso drinks to the masses, hopes to steal a big slice of the $21 billion global instant coffee market from established players like Nestle SA's Nescafe and Kraft Foods Inc's Sanka.

"This is the biggest investment we've made in a national launch," said Schultz, who is navigating a turnaround at Starbucks while looking for new products to drive profits.

Starbucks will trumpet Via's debut in the United States and Canada with a week-long advertising campaign that will highlight in-store taste tests pitting Via against Starbucks brewed coffee.
Reuters reports that Starbucks Via retails for much higher prices than its instant rivals.
A trio of single-serve Via packets will sell for $2.95 in the United States and 12 packets will sell for $9.95. Those prices are significantly higher than Nescafe's Taster's Choice single-serve packets that sell in Los Angeles for roughly $1.50 for six and around $4 for 20.

< Starbucks aficionados "won't balk at the price" of Via if they believe it delivers on taste, said Bill Smead, portfolio manager of the Smead Value Fund in Seattle.
Sales should start out strong if people are curious about the taste. Beyond that it will depend on how much people like the taste of Via.

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