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STARBUCKS – Can little instant packets bring big sales?

Can neat little packets of finely ground coffee revitalize a company? Time will soon tell. Starbucks’ new instant coffee may reinvent the category as the company claims. But on the other hand, it could also just further water down the company’s focus on its somewhat diminished core retail business.

Our recent article on the new product got considerable attention, leading me to believe that plenty of other people are wondering too.

The very good branding blog Brand Autopsy has a very interesting take on Starbucks instant, and also astutely points out that “instant” coffee isn’t entirely new for the Seattle coffee empire – it’s been used in several products the company has been selling for years.

The change with the company’s new VIA brand is how the company is positioning the product – as a new take on the age old instant-coffee technology, which most people view as sort of a necessary evil … java when you can’t properly make a “real” cup of joe.

But is it a good move for the company? It comes after a sharp decline in its core retail store business. Maybe Starbucks is extending itself too far by dabbling in instant coffee?

Or maybe the new product is just the kind of jolt the company needs to perk them up? I guess we’ll just just have to see.

And regardless, it’s certainly interesting from a packaging standpoint. It’s clever application of packaging to differentiate the product from its competitors, which typically sell similar products in cartons, cans, or jars. And from a practical standpoint, the VIA packets give the consumer nice, pre-measured portions that facilitate the proper ratio of coffee to water – vital to the flavor that’s so important to serious coffee fans.

I’ve found some interesting things on the new product, which I think you’ll find interesting — a catchy video done in Starbucks usual stylish, hip manner. It certainly makes a pretty good case that the company’s new instant is a logical addition to the brand.

After that is a video in which a Brit coffee connoisseur takes a look at the packaging and gives the coffee a whirl. His reaction jibes with what I’ve seen serious coffee drinkers say about Via instant.

And that certainly bodes well for the new product. Take a look for yourself:

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