Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Starbucks drive thru menu getting makeover

August 17, 2010

thissbuxStarbucks’ drive thru menus are getting a facelift — as the cafe chain takes a page from the fast-food industry’s playbook.

At the end of August, the menu boards at Starbucks’ 2,600-plus drive thrus in the United States and Canada will have more pictures and fewer words. Fast-food chains like McDonald’s, which has been going after the Seattle coffee company’s core business with espresso drinks, frappes and smoothies,  commonly use simple, photo-based menus to tempt diners.

“People eat with their eyes,” said Clarice Turner, Starbucks’ senior vice president in charge of the menu makeover.

To make room for the additional photos and larger print, the number of items featured on the new menus will be cut from about 75 to around 25. Despite that, everything available inside the cafe will still be available in the drive thru lane, Turner said.

Starbucks has turned the spotlight on quality and its premium market position since the U.S. economy went south and McDonald’s and other chains jumped into coffee and beverage business with me-too products.

To that end, it is planning an autumn launch for Starbucks Reserve – a line of “ultra-premium”, single-orgin coffees that will be sold in its top U.S. coffee markets.

While coffee costs have been soaring, Starbucks told Reuters that price hikes currently are not on the menu. Picture that.

(Image: Starbucks handout)

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