The holidays are coming early to Starbucks.
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Chief Operating Officer Rosalind Brewer says the company really listened to customers this season to build holiday plans, which include less merchandise, a reusable red cup and an earlier release of its holiday cups and beverages.
“We were reminded just how much our base enjoys the holidays and wants to seek out ways to participate in the season with us. It triggers positive emotions in their minds during the season, and we know we have the opportunity to invoke something special in our customers,” Brewer told CNBC.
Store merchandise will feature an assortment of gifts under $20, Brewer said, with many items exclusive to the Starbucks brand.
“We have learned a lot,” she said of assessing last year. “Less is more.”
Last year, the company has said, sales were hampered by holiday beverages and merchandise that failed to draw in customers. By offering fewer retail items at lower prices, Starbucks hopes to encourage more customers to shop in its cafes.
Starting Friday, the company will begin offering six holiday beverages — Peppermint Mocha, Toasted White Chocolate Mocha, Caramel Brulee Latte, Chesnut Praline Latte, Gingerbread Latte and Egg Nog Latte — available hot, iced or as a blended Frappuccino. This is a week to 10 days earlier than previous years, Brewer said.
Starbucks will debut a seventh beverage later in the season. In addition, Starbucks will offer special holiday pastries like a sugar plum cheese danish and chocolate swirl brioche.
The coffee giant is also continuing to offer eco-friendly gifts, including a reusable red cup for customers who order a holiday beverage. Customers who use the cup will get 50 cents off their drink order if they order after 2 p.m.
The move is part of a series of environmentally friendly commitments, including a move to eliminate single-use plastic straws globally by 2020 and its status as a founding member of the NextGen Cup Challenge to develop a global recyclable or compostable cup plan.
Brewer said customers asked for more reusable cups, and the discount will entice more people to use it more often.
Even as smaller competitor Dunkin’ Brands makes a push into espresso this holiday season, Starbucks seems confident its menu will resonate with guests.
“We enjoy our blended business and our customers like the Frappuccino, but what they love is our coffee-forward position,” Brewer said, referring to Starbucks’ policy of keeping coffee and espresso its top products. “You will see us do more and more of that because that is who we are.”