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Groovy: Starbucks Serves Up Tie-Dye Frappuccinos

A Tie-Dye Frappuccino, Starbucks' latest novelty drink, quickly became a darling of social media. A Tie-Dye Frappuccino, Starbucks' latest novelty drink, quickly became a darling of social media.
A Tie-Dye Frappuccino, Starbucks' latest novelty drink, quickly became a darling of social media. courtesy of Starbucks

With its colorful swirls and rainbow-dusted whipped cream, Starbucks' new Tie-Dye Frappuccino may take baristas a few extra minutes to make, but the Seattle-based chain hopes the new drink will be top-of-mind for an afternoon pick-me-up.

Starbucks knows from experience that novelty cold drinks bring in afternoon customers, which is when business typically slows. In summer, with kids and college students out of school, it's a way to capitalize on their free time.

Tie-Dye is the chain's latest eye-popping, Instagram-worthy, limited-edition drink. Its spiritual predecessors include the Unicorn, Mermaid, and Pink Dragon.

Starbucks' latest promotional beverage was trending all day in Google search, by mid afternoon ranking third in popularity with 50,000 U.S. searches for Tie-Day Frappuccino 2019.

Within hours of the Tie-Dye's launch, Instagram had more than 1,000 posts, including shots showing baristas wearing tie-dye to serve Tie-Dye. The colors come from natural sources: beet (red), spirulina (blue) and turmeric (yellow), but this is not a health play. There's 75 grams of sugar for a medium quencher.

Drink creator Paloma Carrington-Bataller said in the company's news release she wanted the drink to "take you back to the sunny warm days of summer spent at camp or with friends or family."

Will summer campiness do as much for Starbucks as this spring's inadvertent product placement in Game of Thrones? Not likely. In customer photos, the tie-dye effect is often indistinct, as if the rank-and-file baristas have trouble pulling off the artwork. In sum, across Instagram, it looks like a lot of other bright Starbucks drinks that've gone before.

However, these are the dog days of summer and Starbucks thrives on buzz, not just on the caffeinated variety. And analysts applaud Starbucks' ability to drive sales through creativity and innovation. Last month, Credit Suisse rated the company "outperform," calling it "one of the highest quality growth companies in restaurants."

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