Starbucks, Facing a Saturated Market, Looks to the High End –

About a week ago in class, I presented to you, as an example of “disassociation,” the case of the Taco Bell Drive-Thru Diet.

Here’s another example of dissociation: Starbucks is going high-end. For years, Starbucks has become more or less the default coffee shop in most of the world and certainly in America. However, there’s been competition coming from cafes that feature baristas with fancy hats among other accoutrements. That’s right, instead of serving coffee that has been “roasted within an inch of its life,” as The Awl’s Matt Buchanan refers to it, Starbucks will serve single-origin, small batch coffees that will be prepared by hand. This is to placate, ahem, discriminating coffee drinkers, like me. And as I order a $7 manual pourover coffee that will take five minutes to make, I will not be reminded of the Starbuckses that crowd every corner of Manhattan, every airport concourse, and mall in America. They will be disassociating themselves from that Starbucks.

To distinguish Reserve from its mass-market cousin, Starbucks is banishing, to a great extent, its green mermaid logo at the new shops and in the product line. The Reserve stores and line of coffees instead carry a star logo, along with a red “R.”

From a coffee-drinker and armchair-business–analyst perspective, this could either be a great opportunity to bring high-quality single-origin coffee to the masses or it could be Budweiser Select.

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