The critics were everywhere when Starbucks introduced VIA, an instant coffee that’s packaged in single serving sizes, designed for use on the go. I took the contrary view that far from a betrayal of Starbucks’ premium positioning, VIA was neatly aligned with two key attributes of the Starbucks brand: convenience, and strong, great-tasting coffee. As the spot-on tagline says, Never be without great coffee.
At any rate, the product is apparently selling well (if the very positive feedback and taste reviews on Twitter and Facebook are any guide). And it seems there is profit to be made – the evidence coming from Nescafe’s Taster’s Choice, a venerable instant coffee that for the first time, is on supermarket shelves in the same, single-serving format as Starbucks. The Taster’s Choice tagline? Enjoy anytime, anywhere.
Imitation is the best form of flattery, as they say. Although the taste of Taster’s Choice pales in comparison with VIA (the former is those same old brown crystals, whereas VIA actually looks like coffee grains) Nescafe’s knock-off is a positive sign that VIA is a winning product.