Designing a ‘Modern Yet Timeless’ Holiday for Starbucks Customers

The chief marketing officer for Starbucks scans a display of 100 coffee mugs, tumblers and cold cups showcased in red boxes. Glancing over sharp geometric designs and colorful classics, she picks up two hot beverage tumblers.

One features a visually interesting texture created by metallic flecks of gold, green, silver and black. On the other, an abstract face with one dramatic green eye, the other eye winking and a blush of color on its cheeks.

“I’ve always been a lover of modern art. I like the modern interpretation of the green dot with the metallic design and the one with the face makes me smile,” said Sharon Rothstein, Starbucks chief marketing officer.

Rothstein’s experience of picking favorite mugs is something customers will relate to when they step inside Starbucks stores beginning today.

The Starbucks® Holiday Dot Collection features 100 depictions of the iconic Starbucks "green dot" logo in a custom curated collection of tumblers, cold cups and mugs, each under $20. Developed by Starbucks own in-house design team, the Dot Collection features bold colors and expressive patterns that ignite the spirit of the season in every piece.

A visually stunning collection of 100 uniquely-designed gift cards also greets customers. The new Starbucks Cards feature penguins, mistletoe, a fox, initials and dozens of motifs created by Starbucks in-house design studio.

The designers hope consumers will find the ideal mug for a friend, or a card that captures a family member’s personality perfectly. There is also a solid business reason for Starbucks “reimagined” holiday season.

Howard Schultz, Starbucks chairman, president and ceo, has spoken to the “seismic shift in consumer behavior” the company witnessed one year ago. Many traditional brick-and-mortar retailers experienced a decline in foot traffic compared with significant growth in online shopping. Customers researched, compared prices, then bought the brands and items they wanted online, frequently utilizing a mobile device to do so.

That trend is expected to continue for the 2014 holiday season. The average shopper is expected to do 44 percent of his or her shopping online – the largest percentage ever, according to the National Retail Federation. A recent NRF survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics also found gift cards are the most requested present among those celebrating the holidays. About 62 percent said they’d most like to receive a gift card.

Reflecting on this change in consumer behavior – and embracing that one out of eight American adults received a Starbucks Card last holiday season – the company “reimagined the holiday experience in stores.”

In addition, Starbucks will give customers the opportunity to win “Starbucks for Life” by simply swiping their Starbucks Card or paying with their mobile device. Starbucks also created the company’s first new holiday handcrafted beverage in five years – the Chestnut Praline Latte.

“We have carefully thought about Starbucks heritage and about today’s consumer,” said Rothstein. “That’s inspired us to create a store experience that is about personalization, convenience and exclusive Starbucks merchandise that is modern yet timeless.”

Visit this special Starbucks Newsroom Holiday microsite daily for new stories about Starbucks designers, partners, products and customers this holiday season.

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‘By us and for us:’ New Starbucks merch inspired by LGBTQ+ community