Unilever acquires Tazo tea brand from Starbucks for $384 million

Along with releasing their always-anticipated annual holiday cup, Starbucks made another announcement this week as well. The coffee mega-giant is selling their Tazo tea brand to Unilever for $384 million as they say they will be focusing on Teavana as their sole tea brand. The sale includes all recipes, intellectual property and inventory.

Tazo, founded in 1994, was sold to Starbucks just five years later for $8.1 million. The brand is primarily sold in grocery stores. Consumers can buy Tazo as a packaged tea, K-Cup pod or in bottled-form.

Tuesday’s announcement was made as Starbucks released their fourth-quarter results and 2017 financial results. The final numbers came in much lower than Wall Street expected and the markets showed it. Starbucks’ fourth-quarter revenue came in at $5.7 billion. Experts were projecting to see at least $5.8 billion in revenue from the company.

Store sales also lagged behind. The company reported a two percent growth in its global comparable store sales. This number too came in lower than estimated; the Consensus Metrix projected a 3.2 percent growth in that sector.

Although the net income for the quarter also slipped, the outlook wasn’t all that bleak. Starbucks reported a five percent growth in full-year revenue at $22.4 billion.

The sale is perhaps not that surprising, after all, Starbucks announced back in July that it would be closing all 379 brick-and-mortar stores for its other tea brand, Teavana. However, closing down shop for Teavana may have more to do with the changes in how consumers shop than sales. In fact, Starbucks announced that sales for their tea category continue to grow.

“The tea category in Starbucks stores continues to grow double-digits globally,” the company’s announcement read. “With Starbucks well on its way to building the Teavana business to over $3 billion over the next five years.”

Over the past year, Starbucks has sold over $1.6 billion worth of Teavana product in stores. They’ve also launched bottled, ready-to-drink Teavana tea through a partnership with Anheuser-Busch InBev. Next year, the company plans to start selling packaged Teavana teas as well.

In the next five years, Starbucks plans to grow their Teavana line into a $3 billion business.

Kevin Johnson, president and chief executive officer at Starbucks, underscored the importance of Starbucks’ tea category and impressed the company’s desire to focus solely on Teavana.

“Over the past five years, we have established Teavana as our primary global brand focused on the premium tea segment. With our growth strategy for premium tea exclusively focused on Teavana, we are pleased to transition our Tazo business to Unilever,” Johnson had to say about the sale.

And Starbucks should be pleased. As Forbes puts it, the nearly $400 million sale to Unilever “marks a more than 47-times return on investment.”

Unilever is already home to many well-known food and drink brands, like Ben & Jerry’s, Lipton, Pure Leaf, Klondike, Breyer’s and much more. The UK-based consumer products behemoth’s leadership claims that, in addition to beefing up the company’s existing tea brands, the acquisition is targeted at millennials.

“With its strong appeal to millennials, Tazo is a perfect strategic fit for our US portfolio that includes exciting new brands such as Seventh Generation, Dollar Shave Club and Sir Kensington’s,” Kees Kruythoff, president of Unilever North America, commented on the news. “Tazo’s solid position in the fast-growing specialty tea segment, coupled with Unilever’s tea expertise, presents a fantastic growth opportunity.”

The announcement this week follows Unilever’s acquisition of the organic herbal tea brand Pukka Herbs back in September.

Starbucks stock falls, but one analyst predicts recovery

Since June 2, Starbucks stock has fallen more than 16 percent. Shares dipped just over nine percent (to $54.00/share) in 24 hours after the company released its most recent quarterly earnings report on July 27.

Investors are losing confidence in the iconic coffee brand due to declining growth rates, Daniel Schönberger of SeekingAlpha writes. Though Starbucks reported an 8 percent jump in revenue and a 12 percent increase in earnings per share last quarter, revenue growth has been falling since the first quarter of 2016, and EPS growth has declined from 37 percent in quarter four of 2013.

Still, Schönberger notes that most companies would love to post growth numbers comparable to Starbucks’, and points to a number of promising indicators for the company’s future.

The growth rate of the chain’s comparable sales increased over the most recent quarter. The comparable sales metric compares sales performance at a given store over some period of time. According to Schönberger, the figure is important from a sustainability perspective, as it is cheaper for a company to grow sales at existing locations than to open new stores. In the most recent quarter, Starbucks reported a 5 percent increase in comparable sales, up from 3 percent in each of the two prior quarters.

Still, in the long view, Starbucks’ comparable sales growth is slowing. In quarter four of 2011, comparable sales grew 10 percent. Until 2014, the company consistently reported comparable sales growth in excess of 5 percent.

Through the latter half of 2013, traffic growth accounted for the lion’s share of comparable sales growth. In the fourth quarter of that year, traffic growth began to decline, and increasing margins of individual sales (“ticket growth”) accounted for most of Starbucks’ comparable sales growth. Traffic has remained flat or declined in each of the last five quarters.

To maintain its dominance in the coffee sphere, Starbucks relies heavily on its brand image, Schönberger notes, citing a 2016 Interbrand report that ranks the Starbucks brand as the 64th most valuable worldwide, worth almost $7.5 billion. In 2016, Interbrand says, Starbucks’ brand appreciated 20 percent.

In a coffee sector in which competition is fierce, barrier to entry is low (i.e., it is easy to open a coffee shop), and customers can shift their loyalties with ease, the strength of Starbucks brand, Schönberger says, compels customers to tolerate long lines and high prices to obtain the familiar, quality product Starbucks offers.

Starbucks continues to expand in the U.S. The company opened 244 new stores on American soil last quarter and has opened 1,002 in the past 12 months. Schönberger argues, though, that the chain’s real potential for growth lies in international markets like India, Brazil, and Japan.

In its most recent earnings call, the company said year-over-year revenue in “China/Asia Pacific increased 9 percent while operating income jumped 22 percent. The company is particularly optimistic about its burgeoning presence in China.

“Starbucks’ opportunity for growth in China is unparalleled…” said Johnson.

There are approximately 2,600 Starbucks stores spread across 127 cities throughout China, Schönberger says. Starbucks’ growth in China mirrors its early growth in the U.S. Comparable sales growth is trending upward on the strength of increasing traffic. Starbucks intends to open 500 stores a year in China, CEO Kevin Johnson said in the earnings call.

Of course, there are risks associated with Starbucks’ expansion into China. Should tension between the U.S. and China continue to escalate, exchange rates may become volatile, Schönberger points out. Moreover, Chinese authorities could impose sanctions, even bans, on American businesses.

As of 2:08 Eastern Monday, Starbucks shares are trading at $54.25 apiece. The stock’s 52-week low is $50.84. Schönberger recommends that investors capitalize on the low share prices by picking up stakes in the coffee giant.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons

Starbucks’ Digital Flywheel Will Track Consumer Preferences Come Fall

Starbucks is set to expand its mobile, “cloud-based” Digital Flywheel technology this fall, Michelle Lodge of The Street reports. The new and improved app, which will be available only to members of Starbucks’ rewards program, will track customers’ ordering patterns, and use “real-time triggers and push notifications” to suggest orders tailored based on a customer’s taste, as well as on factors as specific as the weather, the day of the week, and the occasion

Customers will see different suggestions when it is raining than they will when it is sunny. On a customer’s birthday, the app will recommend something special. The Monday after, it may suggest an extra shot or two of caffeine.

When Starbucks first announced Digital Flywheel in December, CTO Gerri Martin-Flickinger said the app would include a streamlined payment process and a “compelling” rewards program, Dan Richman of Geekwire wrote in December.

The enhancement of the app comes as mobile transactions constitute an increasing percentage of Starbucks’ revenue. The ubiquitous coffee chain still conducts 2.5 times as many in-store transactions as mobile transactions, according to Stifel analyst Mark Astrachan, but mobile sales are trending upward, while traditional sales are falling.

Although the growth of “mobile transactions per sale” has slowed over the past two years, it has risen by a margin of more than ten percent year over year for the last two quarters, Astrachan says. Meanwhile, “non-mobile transactions per store… has declined low double-digits for the past four quarters, with the two-year CAGR [compound annual growth rate] decelerating for the past seven quarters.”

8-9 million of Starbucks’ 13 million rewards members—just under 70%—are mobile customers.

Starbucks’ stock has been on the decline since early June. From June 2 to July 24, shares fell over 9%. Since Friday, the stock has fallen more another nine percent, despite a brief spike in early Monday. which was quickly followed by a proportionate drop.

“The fact that the stock has tumbled is a reflection of what happens in the face of disruption,” said Brian Solis, an analyst and futurist at Altimeter. “Shareholders tend to want shorter-term results, versus longer-term investments.”

Solis remains a proponent of Starbucks, and of Digital Flywheel, and has urged investors to capitalize on the dip in the coffee chain’s market value by snapping up shares while they are low. He says Starbucks is on the cutting edge of the industry with its new technology.

“Mobile is one of many promises in which Starbucks is going to grow,” he said. “That is because we are on the forefront of a new movement in consumer engagement, which marries mobile, loyalty and sales with AI to deliver extreme personalization, which Starbucks, is priming itself for and consumers are going to start demanding more.”

Solis believes the app will “engage customers more deeply, building on the momentum that is generating the higher spend per members.”

“Starbucks is one of the best companies in the world that connects brand, user and consumer experience between digital, mobile and the real world,” Solis adds. “They are still pushing forward, rolling out their Digital Flywheel strategy to be more dynamic and to further integrate digital and real world.”

The Digital Flywheel project was spearheaded by Tal Saraf, whom Starbucks hired on in October as its “senior vice president of engineering and architecture,” according to Richman’s aforementioned report.  Saraf has worked for the likes of Microsoft, Amazon, and Cisco, focusing largely on cloud-based services like Amazon’s CloudFront “content-delivery network” and Cisco’s Intercloud.

The AI behind the app may be among the most advanced ever employed in the eCommerce space, and it seems it will make human beings’ lives far easier. Everybody has at one time or another been stuck behind the guy who takes fifteen minutes to order his “grande mocha frappachino with room and half a shot of expresso and a double shot of…”

With digital flywheel, he can order the same thing without saying a word.

Starbucks Brightens Things up With its New Unicorn Frappuccino

You might have noticed something a little different when you went to get your morning coffee. In fact, Starbucks new Unicorn Frappuccino is causing quite the stir. Instagram is flooded with photos of the new drink option as Starbucks customers line up to try the colorful creation.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BTEnyfuFr43/?tagged=starbucksunicorndrink

One look at the drink and you’re reminded of something out of a carnival. The coffee giant says that the Unicorn Frappuccino has a “flavor and color-changing” uniqueness. It’s made using pink powder that is blended into a mango crème Frappuccino. It’s then layered with a sour powder topping. The color-changing will come when you stir the drink. It will change from purple to pink and the flavor will go from its initial sweet and fruity to a tangy and tart treat.

Yet as far as Starbucks is concerned the drink will need to do more than just attract Instagram posts. Limited time drinks are one of Starbucks specialties. The coffee connoisseur is known for tolling out new flavors that only last for a short period of time. For example, earlier it was the seasonal pumpkin spice latte which has been often imitated, but never duplicated, by many other coffee chains.

Frappuccino lovers only have a small window of time to try the new Unicorn Frappuccino. It will only be available from the 19th to the 23rd. It starts things out as Starbucks first new flavor of the year. It appears to be a good idea for the coffee chain to get back on its feet after a report of down sales for the year of 2016. Over the past year sales for Starbucks have dropped by at least 3 percent. That also adds to the fact that the company has a new CEO in the pilot’s seat.

So where did this idea come from? Starbucks says it pulled the idea from social media which is big on unicorn-theme food and drinks at the moment. Many also believe that the drink will be a great hit for generation Z, or those who were born after 1995. It’s Starbucks hope that the bright colors and a mix of flavor will attract those who grew up with social media to spread the word, therefore, increasing customer flow for the company.

Yet despite its current popularity, Starbucks is not the first coffee joint to come up with this multi-colored invention. The End, a café in Brooklyn that opened up last year, has a reputation for their culturally creative and multicolored lattes. One of those is the Unicorn Latte which is made with ginger, lemon, coconut milk, honey, and E3Live blue-green algae.

Just another magic Monday 👌✨ RG: @butfirst_burpees

A post shared by The End Brooklyn (@thendbrooklyn) on

There’s also the coffee stop called DRINK which is inside an American Eagle store in Time Square. They sell their own version of a Unicorn Latte. It’s safe to say that everyone was on the unicorn coffee bandwagon, and Starbucks decided to hop on last minute.

Yet with all the colors and flavor, Starbucks knows that some people will be concerned about the amount of sugar in the drink as well as its nutritional value. A spokesperson for the company told Business Insider that a tall Unicorn Frap that’s made with whole milk and has whipped cream will have 280 calories and 39 grams of sugar. If you don’t add cream and use almond milk instead of whole milk, a tall will only have 170 calories and 34 grams of sugar.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BTE_taThd-Q/?tagged=unicornfrappuccino

The biggest question many people are asking is how does it taste. There are reports of  “sour skittles” to “sweet and fruity” and some people just plain don’t like it. So, if you haven’t already, hit the nearest Starbucks and add your own photo to Instagram before the Unicorn Frappuccino becomes just another Starbucks myth.

Starbucks CEO Steps Down

CEO of Starbucks Howard Schultz is stepping down and handing the reigns over to current Chief Operating Officer Kevin Johnson. Johnson has been with the company seven years before joining the executive board about two years ago.

Schultz has been with Starbucks for over twenty years and is accredited with bringing the company to new heights. After joining the company as marketing director in 1982, Schultz modified the way Americans drink coffee and opened a door for a social gathering place that gets people out of the house. Schultz later left the company to open Il Giornale, his own coffee shop. That didn’t last long, however, and he came back to buy the Starbucks brand, changing his store’s name to Starbucks and expanding the company to over 25,000 shops globally.

Investors aren’t in favor of Starbucks spending over $100 million on a new project if the economy goes south. Schultz will continue to create a new brand of high-end coffee. Schultz believes that this new high-end brand will be the largest change that Starbucks has received in 20 years.

The inspiration for this new project came from the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room in Seattle. This 15,000 square foot coffee shop uses a siphoning process that produces a 12-ounce cup of coffee for $12. Schultz plans to open at least 30 more large facilities like the Roastery and at least 1000 smaller shops similar to the Roastery. However, Starbucks plan to further expand over 25,000 of its stores to offer similar options that are available in shops like the Roastery.

Although Schultz is stepping down as CEO this April, he will remain on as chairman and says this new change “gives me the entrepreneurial freedom to do what I think I do best.”

Starbucks Creates its First Store Consisting of Deaf Employees

You’re in the capital of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, and you walk into a Starbucks in hopes of satisfying your coffee craving. To your surprise, your barista can’t speak. Instead, she communicates with you in sign language.

That’s right! Starbucks has employed deaf people to work at a Starbucks located at the Bangsar Village II shopping mall in Malaysia. This store is the first of its kind globally.

The Malaysian Starbucks Chain, Berjaya Starbucks Coffee Company Sdn. Bhd., is collaborating with The Society of Interpreters for the Deaf (SID) to create employment opportunities for the deaf community.

Sydney Quays, managing director of Starbucks Malaysia, states,

“We are proud to support people with disabilities through fulfilling work to create a culture of empowerment and to bring new perspectives to the workplace, which ultimately makes us a better company,”

“We have a rich history of creating opportunities for underrepresented groups and our aim is to raise public awareness of the value people with disabilities bring to the workplace and to enrich the lives of many more Deaf partners.”

Starbucks is trying to give its Deaf partners a place to belong. To do this, Starbucks enlisted the help of SID to help develop the store. SID was founded in 1990 to support the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community. Its goal was to provide equal rights and opportunities for the community.

The chairman of the Society of Interpreters for the Deaf (SID), Alvin YM Wong, has expressed his pleasure of working with Starbucks to support his deaf companions. He believes that Starbucks is giving its deaf partners a chance by encouraging them to progress in their careers. The opportunity will also cultivate a sense of pride and accomplishment that will set them on the right path.

SID has helped the store develop by providing two sign language interpreters to help translate during the hiring and training process. They will also be there to help during the working process. In addition, these interpreters will teach the employees, that can hear, sign language.

The store now consists of ten deaf employees and three hearing employees. Store manager, Evonne Lo, joined Starbucks three years back when she heard about the initiative. Ms. Lo has expressed her satisfaction in supporting and developing her deaf partners.

The new store is catered to both hearing and non-hearing consumers. The store is supplied with Starbucks Card kiosks which are used to check your card balance before you order. Customers will then fill out a Starbucks order ticket. Employees will then load your order. The order will be exhibited on a screen so consumers can verify their orders. Customers will receive their beverages when their order number is displayed on the pick-up screen.

Starbucks Malaysia has received recognition from many distinguished organizations for their welcome environment. The company was awarded Employer of Choice by Malaysia HR Awards 2015, Malaysia’s Best Employer 2015 by Aon Hewitt, and Best Companies to Work for in Asia 2015 by HR Asia and Best of the Best Award.

Apple Pay Now Available in the U.K.

Apple users in the U.K. need not fret because as of Tuesday, Apple Pay was launched for its users.

Until now, this feature had only been launched in the U.S. since October 2014.

The anticipation has been building since a tweet was accidentally released by HSBC UK saying that July 14 would be the official launch date. The tweet was taken down soon after, but not before word spread.

As of now, there are seven banks that participate in Apple Pay: American Express, MBNA, Nationwide, NatWest, Royal Bank of Scotland, Santander and Ulster Bank.

A spokesperson from Barclay spoke with Business Insider saying,

“We are really excited about the launch of Apple Pay and can confirm that we will bring Barclay’s debit cards and Barclaycard credit cards to Apple Pay in the future.”

This feature is still only available for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, both in stores and online. The Apple Watch is compatible with the payment method in stores only and the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 only have this feature available online.

To set up, go into the Passbook app, and from there, you can enter your credit card information. Major credit cards being accepted as of now are Visa, MasterCard and American Express.

If the prospect of your phone holding so much personal information about you is daunting, Apple has some reassuring words.

“With Apple Pay, instead of using your actual credit and debit card numbers when you add your card, a unique Device Account Number is assigned, encrypted and securely stored in Secure Element, a dedicated chip in iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch.”

This means that the retailer never actually gets any of your credit card information, and if the system was to ever be hacked, there would be no chance of your cards being compromised.

Using Apple Pay will require you to set up the touch ID feature on your phone. Unlike when you’re making a purchase in the app or music store, Apple Pay requires a thumb print identification as opposed to a password.

Although not all of the larger U.K. companies seem to be eager to participate in Apple Pay as of now, there are still over 250 thousand companies that will take Apple Pay. Food chains such as Starbucks and McDonald’s, drugstores like Boots and gas companies like BP are all interested.

Other companies are offering Apple with in app purchases such as Topshop, Etsy and Zara.

Before users get too excited, Apple Insider has an important piece of information from a report that users should keep in mind.

“Apple Pay Vice President Jennifer Bailey confirmed current point of sale terminal software is capable of processing low cost transactions without verification, though purchases above 20 pounds (31 US dollars) will need software upgrades. Once merchants decide to update their POS systems, the limit is expected to rise up to 30 pounds in September.”

If you don’t see your bank on the list of participating companies, Apple has noted that several others are “coming soon.” This includes Bank of Scotland, First Direct, Halifax, HSBC, Lloyds Bank, M&S Bank and TSB.

HSBC spokesperson has told BBC that,

“We are working hard to bring this to our customers by the end of July.”

Reports surfaced in May that Apple Pay was in talks about coming to China, but there hasn’t been much else released on the matter since.

Apple Pay will be getting a makeover when the iOS 9 launches this fall.

TechCrunch reported that Passbook will be simply be called “wallet” and that,

“The upgraded app will also allow customers to store loyalty and rewards cards in addition to their payment cards and passes.”

Image: Via Apple

Starbucks Expands its Mobile Order & Pay Feature

Starbucks Mobile Order & Pay option has increased their outreach to 26 states.

The feature has come a long way since it first began in December in Portland, Oregon. Since its debut, it’s made its way across the United States. The app allows for users to order and pay before they’re even in the coffee shop.

Those who may be wary about the amount of technology that goes into it, Starbucks employees promise that it isn’t that hard.

Starbucks quoted a store manager named Jesse Wenkoff-White who said, “It’s fun to have a conversation with customers and teach them how to mobile order. We can have fairly long lines in the morning and it’s such an awesome option for customer’s looking to run in and out if they’re running late. I’ve had so many people tell me how convenient and easy it is. Our customers that use it absolutely love it.”Use the Starbucks mobile app to efficiently order your meal.

Image via Starbucks

To do this, users open the app and choose the food or beverage they want, and from here they can choose the location that they want to pick it up at. In order to pay, users will utilize their Starbucks Card which should already have the funds loaded onto it.

According to Starbucks, “The Starbucks app for iPhone displays a barcode that can be used just like a Starbucks Card to make a purchase.”

Once you’ve chosen your order and your location, the app will give you directions on how to get to the location.

Another perk is that this app will allow you to digitally tip your barista. This can be done in $0.50, $1 or $2.

According to Forbes, from the beginning of the Starbucks Cards, “it turned out that empirical research showed that within the first year 75% of the cards were being used by the original purchaser. This very large but still rather secret fact informed the logical development of a mobile wallet.”

Using the card has other perks as well. It will allow you to gift Starbucks cards to other people, and users have the ability to accrue points through the Loyalty Program. For every purchase made using your Starbucks Card, users get one point. These points can be exchanged for free food or drink.

Through the app’s messaging service, users can receive coupons and updates from Starbucks.

According to Tech Crunch, “Today, mobile ordering is seeing consumer adoption for everything from quick coffee breaks for office workers to busy moms with kids in tow to commuters hopping off the bus and wanting to grab their drink quickly.”

As of now 650 stores have the capability of mobile order and pay.

According to Starbucks, amongst these locations are Washington, Idaho, Oregon and Alaska.

Some other locations are in the Southern and Central areas of North America.

This mobile feature is simple enough that it has the capability of benefiting all Starbucks shoppers. As long as they have an iPhone, or an Android in the coming months, then using the feature should be a breeze.

Dunkin Donuts has a similar app and reward program, allowing for users to gain points based on how much money they spend per order. From here they can get rewards like free drinks, coupons for free or less expensive beverages and food orders.

However, Starbucks still has them beat. According to Business Insider, “In the second quarter it accounted for 15 % of the transactions in the U.S. company-operated stores, averaging 6 million transactions per week.”

With summer coming up, this app feature is just what you need to enjoy one of Starbucks’ refreshing ice teas or frothy mini Frappuccinos.

Starbucks Moving Water Plants Away From California Drought

In efforts of lessening the burden on California’s drought, Starbucks Corp. will be moving their Ethos water bottle production plant to Pennsylvania.

The move will occur within the next six months as reported by Mother Jones.

Right now the Seattle based coffee company produces their water bottles in Merced, California, which has been determined one of the most affected cities and is in “exceptional drought.”

The private springs in Baxter from which the company sources their water and is then transferred for production in Merced is also in extreme drought.

Starbucks senior vice president of global responsibility and public policy, John Kelly announced:

“The decision to move our Ethos water sourcing from California and reduce our in-store water reductions by more than 25 percent are steps we are taking in partnership with state and local governments to accelerate water conservation.”

 

Jonathan Greenblatt

via Joanie Tobin

The waters will not be taken from the Californian Starbucks locations, but will be distributed through a new founded supplier.

The reason for Starbuck purchase of the Ethos water back in 2005 was to “address the  global humanitarian water crisis” by donating five cents per bottle sold in their stores

The company has raised more than $12 million to water efforts in Africa, Indonesia and Latin America for cleaner water.

Now Starbucks will move their productions to help save California from a water drought.

 

Starbucks to Introduce Charging Pads in Stores

As if you needed another reason to love Starbucks, the Seattle based coffee giant has added one more anyways. Millions of people turn to Starbucks when they are in need of a pick-me-up, but now the popular chain is extending the courtesy to your cell phone as well. Starbucks recently announce it has teamed up with Duracell with the initiative to introduce wireless charging in its coffee shops.

Over the next three years Starbucks plans to install 100,000 charging pads in table and counter tops in about 7,500 of its company-owned stores. Starting in the San Francisco Bay Area, customers of the popular coffee brand will be able to charge their phones automatically without the need for cords or cables. And just like their WiFi service, there will be no additional cost to the customer.

USA Today quoted Starbucks’ Chief Digital Officer, Adam Brotman, as saying “Starbucks believes this is another step in staying ahead of the curve when it comes to in-store technology.” Anyone with a cell phone can attest to the stress felt from a dying phone, and Starbucks is aiming to ease that pain. Starbucks hopes by allowing their customers the convenience of charging their life lines in house, that they will linger longer and spend more at the counter. It’s a strategy that, in the past, has paid off.

Unfortunately though, most customers won’t be able to take advantage of the easy charging, at least for now. Customer’s must have a phone capable of charging wirelessly, and since few exist right now, the public will have to wait. Most likely though, by the time Starbucks has the new wireless system running in all 7,500 stores, cell phone technology will have pretty much caught up. In the mean time, Starbucks is dabbling with the idea of selling the battery accessories for wireless charging themselves.

Wall plugs will soon become a thing of the past, and Starbucks is aiming to be ahead of the game. Soon other companies will be trying to figure out how to incorporate wireless charging into their own stores, while Starbucks will have already become a pro at it. So sit back and relax, your phone isn’t going to die…not on Starbucks’ watch.

 

 

Photo: Starbucks

Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks Launch Lunch Menu

It’s not enough that you give them money every morning, breakfast staples Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks want you to come back for lunch too. Dunkin’ Donuts has just released a new grilled-chicken flatbread for $3.99 in response to a slew of new hot sandwiches that Starbucks has already began testing in a limited selection of their cafes. While both companies continue to have lines out the door in the morning, they can’t seem to sustain the same demand as the P.M. roles around. John Costello, global marketing and innovation president at Dunkin’ Brands, explained “Our mission is to get people running in the morning and to keep them running all day.”

Chains such as these have began pushing into the lunch time competition, just as companies such a McDonald have fiercely advertised for their McCafe as a coffee stop alternative. Coffee and donut shops rely on breakfast time for about 65% of their daily revenue. Dunkin’ Donuts has been trying to appeal to customers to stay in the afternoon by redesigning their restaurants with earth toned paint, intimate booth settings, and soft jazz tunes playing in the background. Earlier this year the breakfast giant launched the chicken bacon ranch sandwich as its first non-breakfast food alternative.

Starting on May 6, Starbucks began testing its own lunch time sandwiches in 178 stores in Phoenix, Arizona and Richmond, Virginia. The sandwiches included a chicken bacon swiss sandwich ($5.95), a grilled cheese ($5.25) and a beef brisket and cheddar baguette ($6.95). The sandwiches are expected to be release nationwide sometime in September of this year. Troy Alstead, COO of the Seattle based chain, declared ““Starbucks stores across the U.S. will increasingly be seen as a destination for a quick, delicious and high-quality lunch.” Starbucks is adamant about providing different dining options for its consumers. According to the LA Times, the company plans to open a new restaurant in L.A soon.

It’s great that giant corporate chains like Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks are trying to make lunch more convenient for its customers. But why not try just bringing a lunch? Why not make a chicken bacon ranch sandwich at home? Not only will you save money, but even if you mimic your favorite fast food sandwich it will probably be healthier for you as well. Dunkin’ Donuts have been opening hundreds of stores within the last year, but what about the little guys? So hit up a food truck, or take advantage of your locally deli. Take a break, your cup of joe will still be there in the morning. The truth is, most people hardly have the time to make their own home food for breakfast or lunch, hence, these corporate giants would always compete for every penny they can get.

 

 

Photo Illustration: Murs Alison/BIZNOB.com