Starbucks Refreshers Get “Refreshed”


Courtesy of starbucks.com.  The new flavors and updated packaging.
Courtesy of starbucks.com

The Starbucks Ready-t0-Drink Refreshers hasn’t been on the market for a very long time, but are already undergoing a packaging update and product rationalization.  In addition to updating their packaging graphics, Blueberry Acai is replacing the Orange Melon variety.  It’s curious to see changes so quickly to both the product line-up and packaging.  Does this imply that the Orange Melon flavor was unpopular with consumers on both sides of the border?  Was the previous packaging not resonating with Starbucks consumers?  Both old packaging and flavors are still available in grocery channels, which may add to the confusion that shoppers see at the shelf.

The packaging refresh changes the upper body of the aluminum cans.  With the update happening so soon after international launch, Starbucks must have monitored the progress of these new products closely.  The results may have indicated lackluster sales and an inability to connect with the consumer.  The logo and “Starbucks Refreshers” name now sit in front of a silver background, with the name appearing on black font. The subsequent communication of product benefits also changes, now highlighting its real fruit juice and vitamins.  It appears that the main changes are the font color and the benefit callouts.  As such, it leads me to believe their consumer research may have indicated product confusion around what the can contained.  Were the contents coffee, given it’s green coffee extra callout?  Did consumers clearly see the Starbucks logo in front of color clashes of purple, orange, and pink?

From a cosmetic perspective, the new packaging certainly looks more appealing and communicates the product benefits more clearly.  Product confusion is reduced with the “green coffee extract” wording removed, replaced with “real fruit juice” and the vitamin callout.  The green Starbucks logo in front of a silver background also showcases the brand identity better, and ultimately better for brand equity and visibility.

What about the Orange Melon flavor?  Were sales of this item so poor that it merited rationalization just one year after its launch?  Could the Blueberry Acai flavor not have been an incremental product to their Refreshers portfolio?  BevWire had tried both the Strawberry Lemonade and Raspberry Pomegranate, but not the Orange Melon.  Are other beverage consumers’ taste preferences similar to mine?  If this was the case, it certainly would indicate that the Orange Melon flavor was the least considered option among the Starbucks ready-to-drink energy drink line-up.  It would merit rationalization quicker in order to preserve retailer confidence in the burgeoning food and beverage company.

While changes within the Refreshers line-up is surprising, it certainly shows that the company is investing support behind these new products.  Making product and packaging changes requires financial investment – especially when done so quickly.  Hopefully this is an indication that Starbucks plans to commit on making these products a market success over the long term.  As the organization continues to expand outside of coffee, it is imperative that their track record of success stays intact.

Courtesy of usatoday.com. The old Starbucks Refreshers packaging and flavors.
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4 thoughts on “Starbucks Refreshers Get “Refreshed”

  1. Tom Beans

    Seems odd about the Orange Melon since every time I went to get them in the store, the Orange was close to sold out while the others were always available. Far and away the best flavor since the sweetness wasn’t over the top. Tried the new Blueberry and it’s horrifically sweet. Terrible move by Starbucks.

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  2. Sue Lewis

    Completely agree. The orange melon was the least sweet and most appealing. The new blueberry acai tastes like a cleaning product.

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  3. Jim P

    Starbucks seems to have a problem understanding sales data properly. My local stores were always out of the orange melon product as well, with shelves fully stocked of the other flavors. Now the local Starbucks has revamped their selection of pastries and breakfast sandwiches. They are constantly out of the slow roasted ham and swiss breakfast croissant which by chance is the best of the bunch. I have asked several of the employees who is responsible for setting the order point of these sandwiches, and none of them can give me an answer other than “someone at corporate”. Look for the slow roasted ham and swiss to be the next discontinued item at your local Starbucks…

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  4. jojobeans

    I adore the orange melon( not much melon) but to me was the most refreshing. I abhor artificial strawberry flavor. The Raspberry is at least still available but I do tend to horde the orange ones when I find them. I buy them all. Is that bad?? It is very disappointing when the one you really like is the one they pull .I detest blueberry as well. I really wish they would not have d/c ‘d the orange. They also did away with the powder ones you can make at home too. i really hope they don’t d/ c them in store. The lime is horrid in store.

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