retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Wall Street Journal has a piece about Jeff Hansberry, the new president of Starbucks Channel Development, and how he sees the company’s new aggressive approach to CPG sales affecting retailers other than its familiar cafes.

While he doesn’t offer specifics, for example, Hansberry “stood before three rows of Starbucks K-cups - coffee pods that fit into Keurig single-serve brewing machines - at a Seattle Safeway Inc. store last week and predicted that the space dedicated to single serve coffee products will double in size a year from now.

“He described the coffee aisle of most supermarkets as being ‘stale’ and said something has to change to make the coffee-buying experience more enjoyable.

“Glancing up and down the aisle, he pointed out that the company's bagged coffee, Via instant coffee, K-cups and Tazo tea are all separated, organized by product type instead of brand. ‘What we're looking for is a brand block—to get all of our items together,’ he says, hinting at a future coffee-aisle reinvention.”
KC's View:
MNB actually had a brief piece about Hansberry’s appearance at the recent Portland State University Food Industry Leadership Center (FILC) 2011 Executive Forum. You can read that piece here.

I’d like to offer one thought here.

I have no problem, conceptually, with the notion of reinventing the coffee section of the supermarket. I actually think most supermarket sections could do with some reinvention.

I guess I just wonder if Starbucks would like to reinvent every supermarket’s coffee section the same way. If it does, won’t that lead to a kind of sameness that will get boring all over again, really quickly?

I’d like to see individual companies planning this kind of reinvention so that it could give them a differential advantage over the guy down the block or across the street. I think that actually could be better for these companies, because the places in which they are different will define them more and better than the places in which they are the same.