- Starbucks is getting into the holiday spirit with a new limited-edition drink, the Christmas Tree Frappuccino, which will only be available from Dec. 7-11, per a company news post.
- The drink is designed to include what the company described as the "festive flavors of the season," with a Peppermint Mocha Crème Frappuccino base topped with a Matcha whipped cream "tree" decorated with caramel drizzle garland, candied cranberry ornaments and a strawberry.
- The website Mashable speculated the specialty drink might come as a response to complaints that Starbucks hasn't been "Christmas-y" enough in the recent years with its plain red holiday cups. The brand had to deal with social media trolls on the non-issue and was even called out for a boycott in 2015 by then-presidential hopeful Donald Trump.
Starbucks appears to again be trying to recapture the social-media success of its Unicorn Frappuccino from this spring, a rainbow-colored concoction expressly designed to be visually shared on apps like Instagram. That beverage, which, like the Christmas Tree variant, was only available for a limited window, went viral and ended up informing the brand's mobile strategy and innovation more broadly despite reports that its actual taste was less than magical. The Christmas Tree offering has a few factors stacked against it, however, namely that it's a slushy cold drink arriving during the winter season.
Speculation that Starbucks might also be trying to court conservative-leaning consumers who have been put off in recent years by the brand's steering away from strictly Christmas-related iconography makes sense. Recent analysis suggests that the coffee giant's stature has diminished despite its reputation as an innovative mobile marketer. A November study from Engagement Labs found that Starbucks lost the top spot for positive consumer word of mouth and social conversations among quick-service restaurants, possibly due to its progressive messaging being off-putting to some audiences.
That's not to say that Starbucks has abandoned its liberal slant. Advertising for its 2017 holiday cups includes a same-sex couple, for example. The packaging this year is meant to draw out its customers' creativity, inviting them to color in the mostly-blank space however they see fit. More recently, the brand also unveiled "Project Give Good," a holiday campaign where baristas will give away a total of $1 million in gift cards to their local patrons. The weeks-long out-of-home activation also grants instant Starbucks Rewards Gold status for customers making a purchase with the mobile app or a registered Starbucks card.