Starbuck's Vivanno A Good Addition, But Hardly Unique

Posted by: David Kiley on July 15, 2008

vivanno.jpg


If Starbuck’s is looking for its new Vivanno smoothies [ “ Starbucks Sashays Into Smoothies”,” Businessweek Online, July 15]to substantially revitalize its menu and create a new buzz in the stores, I think they may be disappointed.

Recent comments by Starbuck’s chairman-CEO Howard Schultz talking up the product led me to believe it might be something substantially different than what I can find at my local tea and smoothie store, or even Jamba Juice.

Starbuck’s is testing Vivanno in California and Michigan. I got both versions of the new Vivanno at Starbuck’s on Main Street in Royal Oak, MI, just three blocks from our office. One is made with banana, milk, and an orange-mango-blend of juice, along with whey protein and fiber powder. The other is banana/chocolate.

I was given a coupon for free tastes this morning when I bought a latte and Naked protein juice smoothie. Like a lot of busy workers, I often grab a Naked or some other similar brand to have at my desk in case I don’t have time to get a more substantial lunch.

The chocolate has a somewhat chemical taste. It doesn’t really taste like chocolate, like one of those carob candy bars you get at a health-food store. It also reminds me of the Alba chocolate shakes I used to drink to lose weight and have as a meal replacement. That’s not an endorsement. It is smooth, not chalky, like some smoothies can be when fiber and whey are added. The standard serving size has 270 calories (the same as a serving of a Naked brand bottled smoothie), 16 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber. There are no artificial flavors or colorings, says Starbucks. No corn syrup. There is one whole banana in each Vivanno.

The fact that it gets made on demand gives it a leg-up on the packaged smoothies it sells now. A Naked brand bottled smoothie has no fiber, though it does pack 4 additional grams of protein. The orange-mango is certainly better, in my book, than the banana chocolate.

Just as at Jamba Juice, you can customize your smoothie. Starbucks recommends adding a shot of espresso to chocolate/banana. Indeed, it did deepen the flavor and mitigate the dreaded Alba taste. Another suggestion is adding Green Tea Powder to the Orange-Mango Banana blend. That adds 40 calories, but also adds the antioxidants. I’ll save the calories and drink my tea later, thank you. Nonfat milk can be substituted for whole milk, or course. I found no appreciable loss of flavor when doing this.

Vivanno is, I think, a good addition to the menu, and will soon, I would think, displace the Naked brand (ready-to-drink bottles) from Starbuck's. Naked is the supplier of the juice used in the Vivanno. Given the choice between the two, I’d take the Vivanno. But something about it lacks the zip I was expecting when I first heard about a new product line coming to Starbuck’s. I wanted to think it was like nothing I’d ever had before. I have had this product many times, at my local smoothie shop and at Jamba Juice.

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Reader Comments

Ed Kane

July 16, 2008 02:27 AM

Great, 5 grams of fiber and one case of diarrhea....instead of Vivanno, it ought be sold as a laxative....nothing unique about that....Starbucks should have been more clear about the contents of this stuff....if I knew it had 5 grams of fiber I would have not ordered it......if not for the banana, it would have been worse....that's the last Vivanno I'll have....

Phil

July 16, 2008 10:05 AM

Goodness. Five grams of fiber aren't going to give anyone diarrhea.

Juice drinks always sell for a while at Starbucks. They get a boost just by being new.

Does "Vivanno" enhance Starbucks Coffee culture? Does "Sorbetto?"

Is this Starbucks doing what it does best? Or just an attempt to bolster the bottom line with anything that generates hot weather sales? Those are the concerns I have.

KO

July 16, 2008 12:02 PM

Very lack luster product. I tried the Orange-Mango-Banana blend today. I had to fight through drinking this thing until i finally gave up. Not a good choice at all.

Frank Loweser

July 16, 2008 01:49 PM

I tried one in Michigan as well. It's not bad. But where I live, I have choices for fresh smoothies, and I'd rather help out a local business than a national chain.

Paul P

July 16, 2008 02:27 PM

I don't think this smoothie strategy is going to help them much. Maybe in the short-term, but not in the long-term. Starbucks is way to generic, I prefer a local coffee shop or Peets - something with quality.

Tim

July 16, 2008 03:51 PM

As a former employee, a marketer, and a present stockholder in the company, this makes me upset. Starbucks needs to get back to being the most serious brand about coffee and nothing else. Even coffee ice cream. It should just be coffee, period. And not that bitter stuff they had sunk into serving. The espresso and the bean are their heart and soul and it has become too overshadowed by their own coporate 'brand' vision - which apprantly has become clearly dated to everyone but management.

What we need here is brand revitilization through overhaul - not a mere line extension typical of what many other conventional business models would do. I have faith in Schultz doing his part to turn it around, but I wonder if he can break through the very monster Starbucks that may have become.

There's a reason Dunkin Donuts and McDonalds are going for the jugular. They need to recognize this, respond by rebuilding their core, and not be fooled into diluting themselves into a fastfood chain.

People would contniue pay $4 for an espresso drink. If it's an amazing, consistent espresso drink they can't find anywhere else.

Dyanna

July 16, 2008 03:54 PM

The drink is not in testing, the drink launched on Tuesday, July 15th, nationwide. Also, the chocolate in the drink is the same as is used in the Caffe Mocha. Perhaps the "chemical taste" you describe is from the large amount protein fiber included in the beverage.
Also, Naked would not be replaced by Vivanno as one of the key ingredients in the Orange-Mango-Banana is NAKED JUICE.
Perhaps you should research your material a little more thoroughly next time.

From Kiley: The info we were given was that it was Michigan and California first. Also, I was referring to the ready-to-drink Naked smoothies. If you have Vivanno, I was positing that Naked ready-to-drink smoothies might be displaced especially as Starbuck's is reconsidering what it sells as far as baked goods and ready-to-drink offerings.

random

July 16, 2008 05:13 PM

Oddly enough, I tried those drinks in Ohio. They seemed chalky and left a rather thick, stale taste in my mouth. The fiber powder seemed to have added to the industrial goop taste of the Vivanno. As far as smoothies go, I'm not impressed and will not be ordering them again because when I drink a smoothie, I want to taste fruit not a bizarre chemical concoction. Their iced teas and lemonades are much better.

FRED

July 16, 2008 07:15 PM

SBUX won't help its stock price by selling smoothies for sure... Because that's sadly the very bottom line folks.

Meredith Brooks

July 17, 2008 09:49 AM

Tried a chocolate banana Vivanno this morning with a shot of espresso and I was pretty disappointed. I have to disagree with Mr. Kiley and say that it did taste pretty chalky. Also - I am dissapointed in that you can only buy one size - the grande. I wasn't really looking to pay $5 this morning just to test something out, so I ordered a tall. When I was told that my total would be $4.56 - I asked if that was the price for a tall. It was then that I was informed that the Vivanno's only come in one size - the grande. Which I guess makes sense - it would be hard to cram a whole banana down into a tall. However, this should be marketed more clearly. I'm going back to the comfort of my iced lattes.

Meredith Brooks
www.23goingon60.blogspot.com

Randy

July 17, 2008 10:18 AM

I sampled both of them today. I thought they were really good. Also, it's a lot cheaper than Jamba...

Dave

July 17, 2008 12:13 PM

The whole 'it's 1992 so let's stick on a cheesy Kenny G CD and pontificate in our berets over a four dollar double-shot 2% mocha frappe' just isn't cool anymore.

The sooner they realize this, the sooner they can redefine their brand experience. It's the reason 'Fritalian' really struck a nerve with people. The US consumer is much more sophisticated and realistic now.

Me

July 17, 2008 01:04 PM

Local business? What local business? I live in Irvine, CA and there is no such thing as a local business anymore. There's a Starbucks in every retail center and a Juice It Up or Jamba in about half of those. I don't mind the occasional sweet little coffee companion but if I'm ever in the mood for a real fruit smoothie Starbucks is not going to be my destination.

Scott

July 17, 2008 03:21 PM

It says clearly on the menu that it only comes in grande size.

I tried the chocolate banana twice this week here in PA. I thought it was just ok, not offensive, but not great. Adding a shot of espresso did not change the flavor at all.

cynthia

July 17, 2008 07:30 PM

You say it lacks 'zip,' I say it lacks flavor. I like the idea...it's low in calories (with skim milk), it's healthy, it's more substantial than a cold iced drink so if I'm hungry and don't have time to eat the Vivanno is a good idea, but, it lacks flavor. Starbucks should deepen the chocolate flavor, (I don't like mango so haven't tried that one.)
I just realized something, I'll just ask them to add some pumps of chocolate syrup. Starbucks chocolate syrup rocks. Problem solved. Never mind.

RenegadeTactic

July 18, 2008 01:31 PM

Stop beinng fooled people. Starbucks's appeal is the lifestyle appeal. That "snob" value..that tells people "I drink a piddly $4 coffee while you only serve it'.Now that people are realizing they can save 120 bucks a month on more utilitarian supplies, the stock has crashed in these difficult times. Only the fools and wannabe's will continue to throng Fourbucks coffee.

Angela

July 18, 2008 02:17 PM

I was really excited about the smoothies coming to Starbucks because there are no exceptionally healthy places to eat around my work. But when I sipped on the chocolate-banana I was extremely disappointed. It's creamy but it severely lacks in flavor! I find it awkward and chalky. Hopefully the mango one is better.

Lucy

July 18, 2008 02:22 PM

The orange mango banana drink is just horrible. I love starbucks, I like almost everything they come out with and don't even mind the price for a yummy drink but this just tastes HORRIBLE. Don't try it, just don't.

Anne

July 18, 2008 06:11 PM

I tried the Chocolate /Banana with a shot of espreso today. Initally the flavor was good,but by the end I was finished I was not so sure. A little chalky and the warmer it was the worse it became. Also htere is no mention of Carb content.. there must be some????

Carm

July 19, 2008 03:46 AM

Had a choc banana for breakfast today and thought it was super yummy. Love that I only have to make the one stop for my coffee and grab n go breakfast shake.

Rob N

July 19, 2008 06:21 AM

Thanks Starbucks for making a new tasty healthy alternative for my daily goings. I love the lattes still, but theres something about going into summer again that presses me not to have to drive with the a/c blasting full throttle to compensate the steamed milk and espresso I'd be slurpin' on the way to or from work.

I like the new banana chocolate with espresso, but the Orange-mango is by far my fav. I dont know how anyone could say its horrible! It may not be the mix of fruits you prefer blended, but I asked to taste the Orange-Mango premix alone, and it clearly is a nice smooth pureed mix of the two. I even asked to check the label of it so as to verify that is was all pure and no artificial anything. Naked did good on that alone. And with the fresh whole banana in it its just about perfect.

I like the benefit of the protein and fiber too. It doesn't taste chalky or gritty at all like some whey proteins do, and all together the baverage is really just good and naturally sweet. Although since I'm a modification junkie(that goes with electronics and autos too), I had to try the strawberry mix added in place of about 1/4 of the Org-Mang blend. Delicious!!! Its not too tough trying new formulas, me being a regular there and they know what to expect from me(the unexpected lol). there are still a few syrups I think may be worth a try also, Banan-choco also has tons of potential in that respect.

I will never give up my latte(albeit less frequent now), but I see these drinks being a healthy alternative to the less than healthy frappuccinos. Whats cool is I've seen the baristas really try to encourage more ppl to switch to these rather than the other frapps, younger folks especially. Its a great idea. Its really good to see kids going the healthy alternative rather than the higher fat, sugar and caffeine laden drinks. Of course its just perfect for summer.

My only complaint is to have them in more variable sizes and it is totally doable I think with 1/2 banana increased proportions for each size(hello Howard Shultz!). Maybe theyre just waiting to see how well these catch on!?!

Thumbs up Starbucks for bringing something else to the table for its customers.
:)

Pat_in_DC

July 20, 2008 06:20 PM

I welcome the addition. After paying $7 or $8 for a protein drink after a workout this great. I have tried both the OMB (not Office of Management and Budget) and the chocolate smoothies with extra protein. I must say that the OMB hits the spot. In addition, it serves as a great snack during the day. So as long as the serve the OMB I will buy. Oh yeah did I mention that there are convenient SB stores. From home, work and the gym it is very easy to access a starbucks. I can not put a price on that type of convenience. Now if SB would just serve it in a venti..

Jessica

July 20, 2008 08:12 PM

This drink is performing well in downtown Boston (boyfriend is a barista), an area that, considering how many young adults and college aged students it has, certainly is lacking in the smoothie department compared to other parts of the country. For "smoothies" here, the only option is the ubiquitious Dunkin Donuts, whose smoothies (if you can consider them that) come out of a machine and could kill a diabetic in 3 seconds flat.

I like that this smoothie has no corn syrup, contains an entire banana, and has been "fortified" with fiber. The banana smoothie I tried was not heaven in a cup, but it was tasty and pleasantly frothy. I didn't feel like I had consumed several meals worth of calories like can happen at sugarfied places like Jamba Juice.

The only real question I have about the addition of these smoothies is this: how are these new arrivals accomplishing Howard Schultz's corporate rallying call to "get back to the basics" of what makes Starbucks unique?

John

July 21, 2008 10:51 PM

I only drink starbucks when I have gift cards to redeem...they can give me a free song of the week on iTunes, encourage me to stay and read a paper, or listen to the smooth muzak - call me cheap if you like - I say this product isn't going to make it beyond a year.

Sailaja

July 22, 2008 03:05 PM

I tasted Vivanno The Orange,Bannna,mango one and its awful.This will be my First and last one.Its very Bitter and made me have a candy to get rid of the taste. I wasted 4 bucks.

Raen

July 23, 2008 04:57 PM

There are 40 calories in the matcha? Where do they come from?

deanna

July 24, 2008 02:45 AM


the reason they don't taste AMAZING
is because they are supposed to be healthy!

orange mango banana

fruit juice
a little 2%
a banana
protein
fiber
and a little ice

no sweets added

good luck making a drink that you can make money on
this healthy
and still taste awesome!

try adding
green tea

or strawberries?

theyll do it


the reason its only a grande

is because the cups are made differently

using less plastic
and less emissions during the process.

Daniela

July 24, 2008 12:47 PM

I guess most of these people never use protein powders. I found the chocolate banana a welcome variation from the protein drink, puddings, and Fage I've been eating as part of my weight training diet. It's slightly chalky as all protein powders are which doesn't bother me. it's certainly a better breakfast alternative than the sugar, fat, calorie laden scones and other "breakfast" items SBUX offers.

barjohn

July 25, 2008 09:49 AM

granted the orange mango vivanna is not the best tasting thing in the world. But it's a "health" drink--with protein and other ingredients that are good for you. "Health" drinks (with whey,especially) don't usually have a great taste. I drink it because it's healthier than soda or store-bought juices. No fat, sugar or extraneous calories.

John W

July 25, 2008 12:33 PM

These drinks are still high in sugar. I'm a diabetic and I'm getting very frustrated that they can't make a drink for us besides coffee! Nice that it's high in protein and fibre but CUT OUT THE SUGAR.

I called the 1-800 number to confirm that it was indeed high in sugar.

Latoya B

July 29, 2008 01:03 AM

I'm an Starbucks junkie and I was glad to see something new added to the menu. I think it would bring a variety of people in since apparently serving just coffee is not doing it for them anymore. I tried the Orange Mango Banana and I truely loved it. I replaced the milk with soy and never did I encounter the chalky taste individuals are commenting on.

Krissy

August 4, 2008 04:42 PM

I tried the orange mango banana and thought it was great. I will try the other one too because I think these reviews are off base. Also nice incentives if you buy coffee in the morning you can use your register receipt and get a Vivianno for $2.00 on the same day. Well I have breakfast and lunch covered so far. I found it refreshing and in Florida's hot climate that says a lot. Try it for yourself and no I do not work for Starbucks, but I do like this particular product plus the free i-tune cards....

Regis Mejia

August 4, 2008 05:48 PM

I agree with this article but think it's a good business strategy on Starbucks. It's a good way to tap into existing smoothie opportunities, gain new customers (non-coffee drinkers) and make more money from existing customers. For example, I go to Starbucks every morning to get my Venti Americano. But now, I am also going a few times more a week after my workout to get my smoothie, they getting about $10 to $12 extra a week from me which comes to around more than additional $40 a month from me alone.

Alanr

August 6, 2008 07:37 PM

Add 6 equals to achieve perfection. I took 1 sip after adding the equals and thought "wow, this tastes like something my mom would have made me".

I tried it a second time without the whey protein just to see how different it would taste. I loved it either way.

Tim Steppen

August 8, 2008 09:47 AM

I think its a great idea I love the chocolate banana. Its alittle expensive but when I dont have time to sit down and eat the Vivianno is great.

Andy

August 10, 2008 08:04 AM

I tried it today & loved it - way to go Starbucks

Garbriel HJ

August 10, 2008 08:45 PM

i guess the people that were complaining about vivanno here are hoping that it'll be healthy and taste like pepsi or cola at the same time.
for me, i think its pretty good. if i dont have the time to get fresh fruits, i dont mind getting one vivanno as a supplement. :)

Steve

August 13, 2008 02:37 PM

I just had one of the orange/mango/banana ones and I thought it tasted good! As some people have alluded to, the complainers have probably never had a protein shake before! The taste of this blows away my pre & post workout shakes. Got it for $2 after 2 pm with my stamped receipt. $5... no thanks but as long as they sell 'em for $2, I'll take it!

If you get diarrhea from 5g of fiber, you've got one sensitive digestive system there. And, if you're that concerned about sugar that you can't drink fruit juice, then you should probably stick to your water and celery diet.

Overall, I think it's good if you need something somewhat healthy and are on the run. It will surely keep me satisfied for the rest of my workday (unless I'm on the pot!!! SOTPLMAO) ha ha ha ha

Kelly

August 13, 2008 02:48 PM

"Ed Kane"... two slices of WhiteWheat bread have 5g of fiber. You cannot eat a sandwich without getting the squirts? Maybe you should see a doctor.

Ilana

August 14, 2008 12:12 PM

Fiber can be a natural laxative for many people. That is why it often recommended as a way to keep regular. As for the drinks, I didn't care much for the two offered, but am in love with the orange mango strawberry vivanno. This adds calories, but gives it a much better flavor. When the banana is added it tastes a little bitter. The fiber and protein really help me to stay satisfied throughout the morning, and I like the fact that, unlike most smoothies, it is not made with sherbert or juice containing high fructose corn syrup. Of course it has sugar as it is made from fruit, but it is certainly not the sugar overdose that most other smoothy joints offer. It is a great alternative to a slimfast or protein shake.

layna

August 27, 2008 03:37 PM

I am a Vivanno lover-but I don't like bananas-what's wrong with this picture. Today I drank-not 1 but 3 and that was my breakfast, lunch and dinner-gotta slow down now-I am diabetic. I love the orange-mango-banana but the orange and mango ingredient needs to be kicked up a notch. The chocolate-banana is nasty-like yuck!!!Havent had an urge to eat a meal all day. Good work Starbucks and I don't even drink coffee either-just started patronizing Starbucks(lol).

Max Rippe

August 30, 2008 04:21 PM

I think it was a bit of a desperate move to start selling smoothies. It's pathetic even. Schultz just a few months ago said he wanted to "get back to coffee," and now here we are at blended fruit. I can't deny that the smoothies are good(Im loving the orange mango banana)and filling, but I really was looking forward to getting back to coffee. We've go enough unsophisticated frappuccino customers as it is that prey on sugar. Now, Ive gotta deal with people trying the smoothies and saying,"It's not sweet enough."

P.S. We actually use 2% Milk as the default in both smoothies.

Lisa

September 5, 2008 02:00 PM

Just make your own smoothies at home! It doesn't take long! Sheesh!

Snarky McDumpinstuff

September 10, 2008 12:30 PM

Vivanno is poopy.

biatch.....

September 13, 2008 12:44 PM

whatever! if you don't like it, drink something else.........

mj

September 18, 2008 02:36 PM

I love the banana chocolate. I like the flavor of banana and the flavor of chocolate but don't like huge quantities of either and this is the perfect light blend of flavors and tricks my mind into not needing coffee which is much better on the tummy.

Terrence

October 11, 2008 02:22 PM

I drink the banana chocolate vivano every sat and sun after my morning workouts. I thnk the taste is okay however I'm drinking them for the protein. Did you guys notice that they put it in a Grande cup however there is so much left over when they pour it in!! I get two shots of expresso, so some of the barristas have been putting it in a venti cup so that I get all the espresso!! and not of it is lost. Let met tell you, even with the venti cup, there is still leftover in the blender!!!!

susan

November 17, 2008 01:34 PM

I love the orange mango vivannos. I have it without milk or protein and I add some honey. It's delicious.

Amy

January 18, 2009 10:30 AM

I think the chocolate Vivanno is great. I used to only go into Starbucks every now and then for a Chai tea because paying $5 for any drink is over-rated. However, the Vivanno is great tasting and packs the protein I'm looking for. It certainly has me coming to Starbucks more than I ever did ;o)

Melad

February 19, 2009 02:34 PM

the anticipation that i will be getting a vivanno right after my workout is what gets me into the gym...its a good source of protein according to my nutritionist..

Terry

March 15, 2009 02:13 AM

I went to Starbucks rarely as well. Looking for a decent snack last week I decided upon the OMB Vivanno - now have had abt. 4 of them and count on them instead of fattening junky snax or a meal I can't stop for. Even helps control hunger after a while - I am impressed that they're willing to offer an alternative and it's nice & icy if you ask for it. Delighted with it - not sure I want to try the chocolate but really look forward to the OMB variety - 3 a day would work for me, lol.

Kathy

March 19, 2009 02:48 AM

I just tried the chocolate banana with two shots of espresso and I LOVED it. A lot of times coffee is all I will have until way past midday and this filled me up and kept me from getting hungry. I really like that there is no corn syrup in it. Instead of my regular latte, I will definitely be having more of these this summer. I didn't find the taste to be chalky at all, it tasted good too me, perhaps it was the two shots of espresso, I couldn't really taste a coffee taste at all, it was really yummy and a great idea. I hope it sticks around.

Stacy T

March 20, 2009 03:54 PM

I haven't tried the orange mango yet, but I LOVE the chocolate banana! I am planning to drink this to get me through my summer cravings for ice cream.

K in Cali

July 30, 2009 04:47 PM

I like 'em. Had to try it when Jamba Juice in my building closed down because that was my normal breakfast. Easy, tasty, particularly for the protein and I like that is has some fiber. Great way to monitor my breakfast calories.

Amit

August 15, 2009 04:57 PM

It has sixteen gram of protein and 5 gms of fibers! That pretty good to me! Better than gulping down sugary fruit juices without the fibers. For health conscious people, Its surely a plus thing!

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News, opinions, inflammatory meanderings and occasional ravings about the world of advertising, marketing and media. By marketing editor Burt Helm, Innovation Editor Helen Walters, and senior correspondent Michael Arndt.

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