Thursday, August 6, 2009
Starbucks un-brands itself: sneaky or smart?
July 24th, a new coffee shop called 15th Avenue Coffee and Tea opened its doors in the Capitol Hill area of Seattle (on 15th Avenue).
This coffee house is the quintessential "little neighbourhood coffee shop": reclaimed furniture, long wood tables, a stage where there will be live music and poetry readings, greek philosophy book pages wallpaper a back wall, the espresso' s made from a fancy manual LaMarzocco machines rather than regular auto-espresso machines, beer and wine is served, as well as cool "retro-hip" food including artisan baked breads and gelato.
The kicker? This is a Starbucks... in disguise!
A little sneaky, no?
Over a year ago, it was reported that Starbucks' sales were declining (more than 40% in a year). The problem? Starbucks became too popular! As the BBC reported in 2008, Starbucks used to be the new, cool place to enjoy a 'venti' or a 'frappuccino', sitting in a comfy couch reading a book or working on your laptop. Now, there's a Starbucks on every corner, and even Starbucks' CEO admits that the brand has become a commodity, sending once loyal patrons to search out smaller, trendier coffee houses... like 15th Avenue Coffee and Tea.
Apparently, Seattle should expect 2 more Starbucks-in-disguise to appear, named after the neighbourhoods they're in rather than the chain. Clearly, Starbucks is responding to public awareness and interest in independent and local businesses versus large and international ones but what do you think of their strategy? Do you they're being sneaky by disguising themselves or that it's a smart initiative to re-invent themselves?
Click here for the new coffee shop's website.