But whatever the reason I guess they thought that their brand was strong enough and could certainly stretch into that category. Despite their recent troubles there is no doubt Starbucks is a strong brand in terms of consumer equity. And you would think it would be no problem to stretch it into so relevant a category.
But I think they face a challenge.
The reason is that the Starbucks brand is firmly rooted in the in store experience. Fine. That has been their strategy. But that position limits their ability to stretch it in the way that a packaged goods brand or even another retail brand can stretch. If they were they would need to leverage the positive associations with the in store experience as these are the strengths of the brand. The instant product does nothing of the sort as far as I can see.
It made me wonder whether as brands become more rooted in their design or experience and move to a "post brand image” world they become more limited.
There is a specialist cycle shop near me that has a comparison chart on the wall showing the price of a bike at a big box store (about 20% less than their price) but below that we see a list of things (fitting it to the rider, tuning the bike etc.) listed as “free” for their offering but with a price attached for the big box. And the result is of course their offering is cheaper. Judging by the crowds at that store it is persuasive. The value of buying some someone who knows, who you trust, who you can chat with and who supports your choice is common across categories: video games, clothing, food. The services are an extension and support for that value.
Additional to that is the emotional pleasure of buying from someone who is passionate about the same thing you are. And people are certainly passionate about pets.
The later gives us some insight into changing shopper behaviour in the recession. As I mentioned below, Canadians are far less likely to have changed behaviour than Americans. We certainly are not seeing dramatic channel shifts.
We do see some changes though.
Primarily we are seeing a change in the “stock up trip”. It has increased in value primarily due to increased spending per trip (which has not occurred for quick trips). The triggers are now more likely to be a combination of non-perishables and perishables. There is also increased pre-planning and checking flyers prior to the visit.
Final interesting thing - a decline of the male quick trip. As households pre-plan and consolidate their trips that last minute ingredients grab drops