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.