A recent trending social media topic: Starbucks Canada is set to serve beer and wine by the end of 2015. Why is the caffeine mass-corporation dipping its toes into the alcohol industry? Is this decision as exciting as it first sounds? Let’s investigate.
One might think that Starbucks is doing just fine in Canada—if you live in a major city, you probably feel like there is a Starbucks everywhere you turn. You’re not imagining things.
According to an article written in May 2014 that mapped the Starbucks franchise worldwide, Canada has the most Starbucks per person—at approximately 40 Starbucks per 1 million individuals—even more than even the US. Toronto is closing in on fifth place for the most Starbucks on a city-wide basis worldwide, with 160.
Sounds like business is booming for the corporation in Canada? That’s not exactly true. Although Canadians consume 3 billion cups of coffee a year, coffee sales are stagnant in the country and Starbucks slides in at 5th place for coffee sales in Canada, behind both Tim Horton’s (1st place sales) and McDonald’s.
Evidently, Starbucks realized it has to implement changes if it wants to remain competitive in Canada.
That is why Starbucks is introducing “Starbucks Evenings,” the pilot program that is set to hit key Canadian franchise locations towards the end of 2015. They will feature a new menu available after 4pm, complete with beer, wine and tapas. It will follow the introduction of the La Boulange bakery line on March 3rd.
According to Global News: Montreal, women make up 66% of Starbucks customers in Canada, and the company is specifically targeting this market with Starbucks Evenings. By appealing to this market in particular, Starbucks hopes to increase their evening sales, long after the morning caffeine rush as dwindled away.
Starbucks Canada President, Rossann Williams argues that women will be eager to enjoy a drink with friends in a coffee shop rather than going to a bar.
Starbucks’ introduction of beer and wine could potentially also be beneficial to Canadian wineries and breweries, because the Canadian Starbucks’ Evenings menu might feature local beer and wine selections, following the pilot program in the US which features local American beers and wines.
I do see why women might feel more comfortable grabbing a glass of wine while relaxing at their local Starbucks on a weeknight than going alone to a bar… just maybe. I have never been one to sing Starbucks’ praises, and this new move has me as doubtful as ever.
As soon as I heard the news, I couldn’t help but think, not many (if any) men are going to be drawn from restaurants or their favourite neighbourhood pub to grab a beer at Starbucks. That just isn’t going to happen.
Even for women, how many will prefer a glass of wine at a Starbucks rather than a cozy restaurant or an intimate wine bar? I know that Starbucks isn’t going draw me and my gal pals on a weekend night to sit in one of their bright, unsophisticated shops. Sorry #Starbs.
I’m not the only sceptic. An article published online at the Globe and Mail brings up several good points. First, what’s with this sexist notion that Starbucks has that women don’t like to go to bars and would rather sit in a Starbucks? Secondly, Starbucks’ new menu will feature “grilled vegetables,” but honestly, who wants to eat vegetables that have been grilled somewhere else, chilled, and then reheated by microwave? Same goes for the rest of the food.
Only time will tell how successful Starbucks Evenings will be—who knows, maybe Starbucks will become the new coolest place to grab a drink.
If you’re interested in coffee/drinking alternatives, check out these articles: