via-starbucksIt’s been a couple of months now since Starbucks launched its instant coffee, after spending years developing it and months preparing its employees to pitch the granules. The product is called Via, and comes in three-packs that go for $2.95.

So has Via been an idea that will work? I haven’t had a chance to give it the taste test yet. As a Starbucks fan myself, I will say that it targets the convenience factor when I can’t get over to the drive-through.

Some say the marketing is too aggressive; too much of a hard sell that could potentially turn customers off. What is interesting to me is the feedback about that from employees and customers who have been weighing in on Via and the marketing plan over on several blogs like the company’s mystarbucksidea.com and starbucksgossip.com.

Business Week’s recent article on the new instant surmized,

“That Starbucks would even create an instant coffee is surprising enough. After all, the company celebrates the ritual preparation of coffee, and the sense of comfort, indulgence, and sometimes community that its customers experience. It is telling that, before introducing Via in three test markets, the company told employees an elaborate story about its creation: that it was a two-decade-long quest begun by a researcher named Don Valencia; that Valencia passed away before scientists at the company finally came up with a micro-grinding technique that allowed Starbucks to make an instant coffee that passed the exacting Schultz taste test; and that the name itself is in part homage to Valencia.” Read more…

The story itself is part of a trend in corporate advertising. Stories sell–even more so than customer testimonies.

For the first time ever, Starbucks unveiled a national TV and print advertising campaign focused on a single product. For its part, Starbucks is banking on the hopes that Via will be a hit. The potential is there. Instant coffee is a $21 billion global market. And Starbucks made a significant investment in Via, the biggest product rollout in its history.

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