Starbucks Reaches out to SOHO Sippers

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Java hungry commuters who miss a stop at Starbucks on the way to work now can enjoy a cup in the office through a new distribution program aimed at small offices and home offices.

Starbucks, Seattle, launched the effort last month to augment its existing Office Coffee Service Distributors network that supplies coffee and supplies to larger offices. According to the company, more than 14.5 billion cups of coffee are consumed in the office each year.

Starbucks will market the new program through direct mail that will drop in phases beginning early next year, information in existing catalogs targeted to businesses, affinity relationships with other companies that target the SOHO market, and retail store promotion.

A universe for the direct mail campaign will be assembled from Starbucks' existing business and consumer mail-order customer data, data provided by affinity partners and the rental of mailing lists.

Julie Bornstein, director of new business development at Starbucks, said the SOHO market is such a new area and holds so much potential that a variety of marketing approaches will be tested.

"There are more avenues to explore than we have time to do off the bat," she said. "We have lots of plans going forward, and plan to try everything over time."

Interested businesses can choose to receive coffee through an OCS distributor or sign up for monthly shipments of 2.5 oz. packets mailed directly to their offices by calling the Office Coffee hotline at 888/889-2929. Businesses that register before the end of the year will receive a complimentary set of eight Starbucks glass mugs.

Starbucks direct response division generated $21.2 million in revenues in fiscal 1997 and $15.6 million for the first three quarters of the current fiscal year. It represents between 2 percent and 3 percent of the coffee company's total revenues.

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