Starbucks is banking consumers will be thinking about toys as they grab their morning lattés. The Seattle-based retailer that convinced consumers that coffee was not simply a bitter-tasting beverage but, in fact, a lifestyle that extended to books, magazines and music, has added two more toys to its product assortment this holiday season.
Javaphiles can now choose between: the millennium-themed Time Capsule (US$25), which includes Y2K handbook, timeline scroll, locator map, small envelopes, a portable camera and a millennium pen, enabling kids to store their thoughts before 2000 hits; and the Children’s Writing Set (US$15), which features letter sheets, envelopes, colored pencils, scissors and stickers that come in a tin container that also doubles as a lunch box. Starbucks will also be carrying its signature Xmas item, the Bearista Snowman Plush, which will be available in nine-and-a-half-inch (US$10) and 16-inch (US$32) sizes. The larger size bear will sing ‘We Wish You A Merry Christmas’ when wound.
That the coffee company has tripled the number of toys it carried a year ago-from a single SKU to a lofty three-should not serve as an indication that it is planning to make a serious move into the category any time soon, says Shannon Sharnberg, Starbucks regional product manager for Canada. Right now, Starbucks toys, which account for less than five percent of ancillary merch sales, are tied mostly to major holidays like Christmas, Halloween and Easter.
With the recent introduction of three new store formats, however, Scharnberg says there may be an opportunity in the long term for the chain to include more toy merch. In late October, Starbucks began making over its stores into one of three layouts: Signature stores, which carry core coffee-related product, like cups and coffee pots; 3R stores, which feature CDs, magazines and travel books; and Coffee House locations, which specialize in housewares.