Starbucks Wants to Pour Into Grocery Market With Seattle’s Best


Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) doesn’t only want to brew your morning cup of coffee, it wants you to seek out its brand in your own grocery store. The Seattle-based coffee giant is in the process of executing several strategies that it hopes will expand its presence in the grocery market, and its latest push came Wednesday when Bloomberg reported that Starbucks’ Seattle’s Best brand launched a line of new package coffee varieties with refreshed bag designs that it intends to add to grocery store shelves.

As of November 2013, Starbucks maintained a 30-percent share of the at-home coffee market in the U.S., but now the company is looking to increase that figure even more as it recognizes the trend of more and more consumers purchasing make-at-home coffee grounds in grocery stores. The world’s largest coffee chain already enjoys impressive sales from its Via and K-Cups lines, but now Seattle’s Best, a company that Starbucks acquired in 2003, wants to ensure that customers are going after its packaged coffee, too. That’s why the brand said in an interview with Bloomberg this week that it plans to sell house and breakfast blends of coffee this year, and replace its level one and two varieties on account of the light roasts and number ranking system not sitting well with customers. Jennifer Dimaris, vice president of brand management at Seattle’s Best, explained her team’s new approach and said, “With one big screaming, declaring number in many different colors, you could mistake it for not being coffee. We had to bring a nod to coffee.”

Thus, moving forward, coffee packages from Seattle’s Best will come in more brown and green colors, and will no longer feature their old neon hues. The new packages will begin being offered in grocery stores across the U.S. within the year, and they’ll join the company of Seattle Bests’s single-cup Keurig pods, as well as Starbucks’ new instant latte mixes. Each of these products have been launched to help Starbucks bolster its appeal in the grocery sector.

Starbucks’ announcement that it would begin selling mixes for portable vanilla lattes and cafe mochas surprised many consumers last week, considering the drinks are two of the chain’s most popular beverage and their portable availability could discourage cafe traffic. However, Starbucks’ willingness to share its special recipes illuminates the chain’s eagerness to invest more heavily in the supermarket and retail store side of its business. Bloomberg reports that Starbucks has worked to sell more items through supermarkets and big-box stores to help boost sales and profits, and its portable vanilla lattes along with refreshed Seattle’s Best coffee are just two of its strategies that it hopes to execute down the line.

The company’s channel-development business, which includes grocery and food-service sales, made up 9.5 percent of $14.9 billion revenue in the year that ended in September. Now, expect to find Seattle’s Best packaged coffee in bags featuring brown and green colors, and the slogan, “Born in Seattle.” The new products also feature a drawing of a coffee mug.