Launch of the Week: Starbucks Refreshers

August 27, 2012

Starbucks has brewed up a new alternative to coffee or sugary energy drinks- Starbucks Refreshers. Made with green coffee extract, can these beverages give consumers the light afternoon buzz they crave? And will they be one of 2012’s Most Memorable New Product Launches?

Two Gums, Two Innovations, One Winner?

March 5, 2010

In August 2009, Trident introduced a new gum experience with the launch of Trident Layers. Six months later in February 2010, AMP Energy introduced an alternative to the morning cup of coffee, Amp Gum. Despite sharing a product category, the two gum brands differed in both their creations and marketing strategies. The new Trident Layers consists of three layers that form a gum sandwich. According to the Executive Vice President of Cadbury America, Lesya Lysyi, the new Trident Layers “…breaks the mold of current category paradigms of form and flavor.” On the other end of the spectrum, AMP Energy introduced AMP Energy Gum; a citrus “on-the-go” gum that packs the energy equivalent of an 8-ounce energy drink into just two small pieces.

Amp and Trident implemented two different marketing strategies. Trident Layers spent their $10MM budget with JWT New York, and launched a humorous campaign in traditional media, including a TV ad where the babysitter agrees to be compensated with Trident Layers Gum. Trident Layers also accompanied the New York Yankees in their winning parade, layering fans’ faces with paint mimicking the new layers. Finally, Trident leveraged social media by taking an ad in USA Today that displayed their positive reviews from consumers on Twitter.

Amp Energy Gum, on the other hand, maintained its marketing focus on high energy sports. Amp sponsored both snowboarding and NASCAR events and endorsed Dale Earnhardt, NASCAR driver. The Amp Web site is filled with behind the scenes video footage showing both consumers and athletes racing cars, snowboarding and having a good time. They also created several online communities like and, where bands, students and sports fans interact. Amp’s advertising included radio, digital and gas station ads, as well as extensive grassroots and event sampling.

With timelines and marketing campaigns so divergent, it’s questionable whether Trident and AMP are even competing for the same consumers. While one is investing in broad marketing to a wide consumer base, the other is aligning with NASCAR fans and snowboarding enthusiasts. It’s certain that in today’s micro-niche-marketing environment, both can sustain sales with different customer segments, but it will be interesting to see if the novel idea of an ‘energy’ gum garners attention from a broader group than originally targeted (so far we’ve only seen Jolt gum and some lesser known brands marketing a product like this). A caffeine/energy boost at a moment’s notice certainly is an attractive sell. One thing goes without saying: if Amp succeeds beyond expectations, copycats are sure to follow.

Starbucks Plans to Launch Instant Coffee

February 18, 2009

Starbucks Coffee LogoIn a time of job cuts and home foreclosures, a $4.00 latte is one indulgence that some Americans are willing to forgo. Although Starbucks’ premium lattes are what made the coffee shop famous, the premium prices are now hurting its profits.

Competition with places that sell cheaper coffee, such as Dunkin Donuts and McDonalds, has pushed Starbucks in the direction of more affordable beverages.

Starbucks plans to launch its new line of instant coffee, Starbucks Via, next week. Although the launch was supposed to be kept secret until February 17, executives leaked the story to Advertising Age, and now it’s appearing everywhere, from blogs to Fortune magazine, to the Wall Street Journal.

According to Fortune, stores will begin selling Starbucks Via, which is powdered coffee that just needs hot water, as early as next month. The product will be sold in packets that come in packages of three for $2.95 or 12 for $9.95. As a result, consumers will be able to have a cup of Starbucks coffee for under $1.00.

If the taste is the same as regular Starbucks coffee, Starbucks may have created one of the most memorable products of 2009. If the taste isn’t comparable to its original brew, the product will disappear.

Unfortunately, many people have negative biases against instant coffee that may discourage them from trying Via. A Wall Street Journal article explains, to counter the problem, Starbucks went through hundreds of versions to replicate its signature brewed coffee taste and plans to heavily push samples to consumers. In addition to sampling, it will be interesting to see how Starbucks positions and promotes this new product launch.

Will an inexpensive, instant version of America’s favorite luxury coffee sell? Or will people continue to indulge on their more expensive favorites? Does this campaign require re-educating consumers about the great taste of instant coffee?