Starbucks products target consumers' evolving tastes

SEATTLE: Starbucks Coffee Company launched a new menu combo and coffee product lines that appeal to budget-conscious and on-the-go consumers, respectively.

SEATTLE: Starbucks Coffee Company launched a new menu combo and coffee product lines that appeal to budget-conscious and on-the-go consumers, respectively.

The retailer is putting a new $3.95 “pairing” menu, featuring egg sandwiches, and introducing instant coffee options on March 3. The move comes as the economy forces consumers to become more cost-conscious, and customers continue to lead active lifestyles.

In build-up to the launch, the company has been reaching out to key beat reporters in the media, including at USA Today, as well as online outlets, to present the company's new offerings and business strategy, according to Jenny McCabe, director of consumer PR at Starbucks.

“We recognize we need to do this right now,” McCabe said. “We've been talking to customers a lot about their habits and how [the economy] is affecting them. They're still as loyal... they just can't [buy] as frequently.”

Working with AOR Edelman, McCabe said Starbucks believes the new offerings will continue to appeal to its core consumers.

“We understand that price is a big concern for our customers, and we're meeting them in the middle,” said McCabe, who notes that the company is trying to promote “responsible capitalism” alongside brand values.

McCabe said the instant coffee Via is intended for on-the-go consumer. It is available at a price of $2.95 for two packets and $9.95 for 12. Starbucks introduced the new brand at a February 17 press conference for business and consumer media. The company is also providing mainstream media and bloggers with tastings of Via and breakfast sandwiches from the all-day new menu.

Starbucks also seeks to generate a “robust” dialogue via social networking programs, McCabe said, adding that it is planning other activities as the roll out continues.

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