good morning, waffle with your coffee ?

Belgian waffles are the latest thing in the coffee lover’s paradise. Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (CB&TL) in Santa Monica, (on Ocean Park and 30th), started offering belgian waffles almost a month ago. Since I was not raised in this country,  and having waffles for breakfast is not common in my India – my first delectable waffle experience was in a cafe in Berlin. I loved it.

I liked the waffles at CB&TL. They warm it up for you and serve it in this easy to hold waffle cone. The price – $1.95. I will not defend the price by any means – but when you are traveling, just had a rather uneasy day and you get a warm belgian waffle with your coffee – $1.95 makes perfect sense.

The other day I heard from one of my colleagues that Starbucks has recently come out with blueberry waffles. I drove to the Starbucks closest to my place at Cherry Orchard, (Sunnyvale, CA) and asked for my waffle. Apparently they are only testing in Denver right now. I was buzzed by two words there – Testing ?! and Denver ?! 

Why did Starbucks choose Denver as their test market for blueberry waffles ? I have spent considerable amount of time thinking about this and I cannot come up with one outstanding reason. The closest I can get is – some competitor in Denver is making big money on their waffles and Starbucks wants to give them instant competition. Well, I don’t know the answer to Why Denver ? and also to Why ONLY Denver ? So help me out here. This is a larger question though – what are the factors accounted for, by a company, when picking test markets for new product roll outs ?

Starbucks entry price for this medium sized waffle is $2.50. But a week later they flooded the inboxes of several coffee lovers in Denver with a $1.00 off coupon on their blueberry waffle purchase . Now here is how I see their test strategy – they want to determine the following two –

  1. Will people buy Starbucks Blueberry Waffles (silly question- people buy anything that has Starbucks brand attached to it  – even water bottles 😛
  2. Which price point is going to work for this product ? People who are loyal will come in for a waffle for $2.50 but how many more customers can they attract by offering it for only $1.50.

Smart ! I hope folks in Denver rush to the enormous number of starbucks stores (mind it – there is one on every block of the 16th street mall) and provide enough feedback, required to make blueberry waffles a nation wide roll out. I think I will definitely pay $1.50 for a waffle at Starbucks to go with my $3.50 Latte.  Will you ?

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