Crazy frozen drinks aren't enticing customers like they used to

Margaret Eby
Updated: April 05, 2018

In 2017, crazy frappucinos were everywhere. Practically every day brought news of another zany, colorful, coffee-adjacent drink, from the zombie Frappuccino to the unicorn Frappuccino to the not-actually-real dragon Frappuccino. But now, it seems that the wacky Frappuccino market is on the decline. Despite Starbucks' introduction of a crystal ball Frappuccino (a turquoise concoction which, if it had come out a year ago, would no doubt be effective Instagram bait), sales of the creations have bottomed out. 

Starbucks' business in the US has slowed in the past few months. During the first quarter of 2018, the chain's same-store sales increased just two percent, an underwhelming number for the coffee giant. And part of the problem is that short-term promotions, liek those specialty Frappuccinos that are only available for a limited time haven't been working. "They haven't paid off," Scott Maw, Starbucks' CFO told QSR Magazine. "They haven't paid back. Frappuccino Happy Hour is probably the biggest extreme of that, not really paying back. So, we're going to do very different things around Happy Hour this year. Basically, the Frappuccino Happy Hour that you know is going away and something new is coming in."

The new promotional strategies that Maw floated have to do with focusing on the food section of Starbucks' offering, including lunch offerings. The company announced at its annual shareholder's meeting that it plans to double its food business by 2021. While the Frappuccino has been flagging, sales of the chain's grab-and-go bistro boxes have gone up 20 percent, according to CNBC. 

Bistro boxes and other brown bag lunch options are considerably less Instagram-friendly than the over-the-top colorful swirls of a Unicorn Frappuccino, but, the chain hopes, are more sustainable, and probably far less annoying to their baristas than whatever secret menu nonsense the internet cooks up. Farewell to the wack-accino, at least in the form we knew it.

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