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Starbucks Discontinues Wine & Beer Sales

January 13, 2017 – The sun has set on Starbucks “Evenings” concept.  Introduced in 2014 in Seattle, Starbucks sought to increase evening business by offering wine and beer along with small plates of comfort foods like flatbread pizza and truffle mac and cheese.

Since 70 percent of Starbucks customers drink wine, it seemed like a good way to attract customers looking for a friendly place to have a drink or even an after work business meeting.  It was touted as a safe place for women who might be reluctant to patronize a bar.  It really did seem like a winning idea but it hasn’t worked.  Even canny marketers like Starbucks can be wrong and all 400 locations will no longer be in the alcoholic beverages business.

Even the reasons for failure don’t seem to make sense.  Customers were confused by the table service, which wasn’t available in the morning.  That doesn’t make much sense.  The menu, while attractive, didn’t fit the coffee shop format.  Well, no, it was meant to go with a glass of wine.  Some of the locations were redecorated to make the atmosphere more “Evenings” related but that didn’t help either.  The experience of picking up a cup of morning Joe just didn’t translate into going to a dedicated coffee shop for a glass of wine in the evening.  It felt kind of odd.

It certainly sounded like a winning idea and we applaud Starbucks for trying.  The company is going back to its roots with a new project developing “Roastery”, high-end stores where small lot Reserve beans are roasted and brewed using different techniques.  The emphasis is on coffee and that’s what Starbucks is all about.  The first Roastery opened in Seattle in 2014.  Additional stores will open in Shanghai, Tokyo and New York City in 2018.

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