Starbucks has removed the smallest size from its drive-thru menu, leading customers to pay for larger and more expensive drinks.
The new menus, recently installed at nearly 4,000 drive-thrus, shrink the number of items from 75 to around 25.
The company attributes the change to better menu design, not an effort to make up for declining sales. But it will have the effect of forcing customers who only wanted the smallest size, “Tall,” to pay up for a “Grande” (medium) or “Venti” (large).
“We are not being sneaky,” Starbucks spokeswoman Deb Trevino tells USA Today. “We did it because our customers were frustrated with the difficulty of reading our drive-through menus.”
It also continues a marketing strategy at Starbucks of sizing up to the average American appetite.
The original Starbucks sold coffee in 8 ounce and 12 ounces cups (short and tall). But as the franchise expanded, it took 8-ounce cups off the menu and added 16 and 20-ounce cups (grande and venti). Now, at drive-thrus, the two huge sizes will be the only ones available.
It’s worth pointing that “Tall” isn’t a Lilliputian portion: Rather, it is the size of a normal soda can. Americans are now so used to super-sized portions that Starbucks is hoping they won’t even notice the change.
This move is one of many changes at Starbucks in the two years since founder Howard Schultz returned as CEO. In an internal memo announcing his return, Schultz told Starbucks’ employees that the company was “losing its soul.” Many of the changes have been designed at fixing that.
So far, the second Schultz regime is working well for shareholders. After plunging to a low of $8 during the financial crisis, Starbucks’ stock is now back above $25. This is a far cry from the all-time high of about $40, but the company is headed in the right direction again.
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