Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Grey Poupon was Starbucks before there was Starbucks

Starbucks' brilliant business innovation was taking a product you used to spend 50 cents on, and convincing you that you should (nay, wanted to) spend almost five dollars on it:

But before the Seattle based coffee company showed you the dark roasted light (venti with no foam light), Grey Poupon developed this model.

Around the 12 minute mark in the below video, Malcolm Gladwell lets us in on this culinary curiosity:

So what we learn, is that Grey Poupon is flimflammery, in so much as Starbucks' coffee has merely taken an existing product, wrapped perception and "experience" (the experience of the purchase) around it, and sold it for more.


swag said...

Look, I'm no fan of Starbucks. But to make such an outlandish suggestion that the quality of the coffee played no part in Starbucks' pricing strategy makes me wonder if your taste buds can tell the difference between a decent cup of coffee and battery acid.

Do you have any idea what dreck most places the country over were serving under the label of "coffee"? Stuff in crusted BUNN warmers in glass bulbs with orange or brown handles, evaporating for hours on a heat source, deconstructing already stale coffee soaked in rancid coffee oils that were never cleaned off the equipment...

Grey Poupon may not have been a noticeable improvement over Gulden's or even French's. But before Starbucks, retail coffee was at the rock-bottom quality low point following 6-7 decades of man's inhumanity to coffee (percolators, instant crystals, etc.).

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