TOKYO, April 13, 2010 - Howard Schultz continued the global expansion of the Starbucks VIAÂ® business with an announcement from Tokyo, celebrating product availability in 870 Starbucks (NASDAQ:SBUX) stores in Japan. Starbucks is inviting Japanese customers to participate in a four-day Starbucks VIAÂ® Taste ChallengeÃ¢â¬âhosted in Starbucks retail stores to see if Japanese customers can taste the difference between Starbucks VIAÂ® Coffee Essence and fresh brewed StarbucksÂ® coffee.
"Launching Starbucks VIAÂ® Coffee Essence in Japan, where the at-home coffee market is $5 billion, represents a significant milestone as Starbucks goes after the $23 billion global instant coffee business," said Starbucks chairman, president andÂ ceo Howard Schultz. "Customers in other parts of the world have already discovered and adopted Starbucks VIAÂ® Ready Brew into their daily routines, and we are pleased to introduce our customers in Japan to the great taste of Starbucks VIAÂ®."
Starbucks VIAÂ® Coffee Essence is Starbucks first premium coffee stick product in Japan, where 63 percent of total coffee sold is instant.Â With the body, flavor and rich aroma expected from StarbucksÂ® coffee, Starbucks VIAÂ® Coffee Essence will create a new category for coffee drinkers looking to enjoy Starbucks quality coffee anytime and anywhere.
Starbucks VIAÂ® Taste Challenge
Similar to Taste Challenges in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., customers are invited to visit any of Japan's 870 Starbucks stores from April 14-18 to participate in the Starbucks VIAÂ® Coffee Essence Taste Challenge and see if they can tell the difference between Starbucks VIAÂ® Coffee Essence and fresh brewed StarbucksÂ® coffee. In addition, customers who purchase a book of three sticks of Starbucks VIAÂ® Coffee Essence will receive a complimentary fourth stick, and those who purchase a box of 12-sticks will receive three complimentary sticks, which encourage them to share with friends and colleagues.Â Customers can locate their nearest store through the Starbucks Store Locator.
This Taste Challenged builds on the successful launch in the U.K. where customers responded enthusiastically, and nearly one half of people who participated in the Taste Challenge went on to purchase.
"Starbucks VIAÂ® has clearly struck a chord with coffee drinkers in the U.K.; it's a huge instant coffee market, but a lot of people are looking for a step up in quality," said Brian Waring, vice president of marketing for Starbucks U.K. "We knew the key was to get customers to take the Taste Challenge. Starbucks VIAÂ® tastes just like our fresh brewed coffee and upon tasting, customers start recommending it to family and friends."
Poised for Growth
The company is optimistic about creating a new premium category in the Japanese home-use coffee market, and Japan is Starbucks next step as the company eyes the $23 billion instant and single serve coffee market. Since its September 2009 launch in the U.S., Starbucks VIAÂ® Ready Brew continues to gain momentum and customer adoption as customers find new times and ways to incorporate it into their daily routines.
The growth will continue as Starbucks VIAÂ® Ready Brew is introduced into grocery, mass and drug accounts in the U.S., bringing the expected distribution points to more than 30,000 locations by the end of the third quarter of Fiscal 2010, doubling the current distribution. The company continues to innovate on the platform, creating new ways and opportunities to enjoy Starbucks VIAÂ®.
Starbucks VIAÂ® Ready Brew has received numerous honors since launching in the U.S., Canada and the U.K., including product innovation awards from Backpacker magazine, Progressive Grocer, and Allegra Strategies.
Since 1971, Starbucks Coffee Company has been committed to ethically sourcing and roasting the highest quality arabica coffee in the world. Today, with stores around the globe, the company is the premier roaster and retailer of specialty coffee in the world. Through our unwavering commitment to excellence and our guiding principles, we bring the unique Starbucks Experience to life for every customer through every cup. To share in the experience, please visit us in our stores or online at www.starbucks.com.
 Allegra Strategies is a London-based management consultancy and has accurately predicted trends in the UK branded coffee shop market since 1999. Allegra is recognized as one of the global leaders in coffee sector and foodservice research. 126 industry executives were surveyed by Allegra between 15 April and 1 May 2009. A further 20 company executives were interviewed to gather information on latest store numbers.
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