Starbucks has big plans to push for a more customized experience at your local grocery store, according to a recent feature in the Huffington Post. They're stripping stores of their usual beige metro shelves and installing what looks like (could it be?) wooden fixtures with faux-upcycled reclaimed wood paneling. For a moment, you'll be whisked away to a Starbucks retail experience, right there between the Jell-O and the 2-Liters of Fresca.
Last week, Starbucks introduced the aisle to a group of journalists in a loft in New York City. The fixture, which has the look of a truncated grocery aisle, was done up in colors and textures reminiscent of a Starbucks cafe. A lone sconce in warm yellow hung in one of its corners, below the large, green mermaid of Starbucks' logo. Shelves were jam-packed with Starbucks' retail offerings, most notably the chain's Blonde Roast, which hit stores in January.
Twenty-five of them are already in grocery stores — Safeway, Vons, Dominick's and a single Kroger — mostly in California. The others are scattered among Washington, Illinois, Colorado and Ohio. But expect that to change soon.
“Over the next year or so, we'll have an elevated aisle fixture in multiple retailers across more than 100 stores,” said Joe Manning, Starbucks' director of channel development, in an interview with The Huffington Post. Those stores will be spread across the country, with the next likely to be on the East Coast. The chain is currently in final talks with one major grocery chain to place the aisle in some of the region's stores, according to Manning.
Here's the new look:
This new retail campaign rolls out just as Starbucks has announced a $1 price drop on most grocery store offerings. In addition to their new look, they'll also be sampling select Starbucks coffees in the aisle.
For an example of how saturated Starbucks is at one Portland-area Fred Meyer, we did some reconnaissance. They have a cafe in the middle of the store. Bottled Frappuccino and DoubleShots are available at the hot deli, as well as in six packs on the opposite end of the store. JavaChip ice cream (and other flavors) are available in the freezer section. While the presence in the bulk coffee aisle (whole bean, ground, and instant) is large, soon, there will be a visually unique Starbucks grocery aisle somewhere between the pet food and the light bulbs. That is what you'd call “fairly saturated.”
The grocery store experience is something that's a unique challenge for the smaller to mid-tier roaster. Starbuck's dominance over certain locations has us wondering, oh Sprudge readers, what are some of your personal experiences working with grocery store coffee managers and buyers? Is this model from Starbucks enviable? Expensive? A bit much? Adaptable to boutique specialty coffee? Sound off in the comments below!