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G.I. Joe: Caribou Declares Coffee War

Posted by Maggie Rauch on September 07, 2006

Caribou Coffee declared war on Starbucks last week, offering to honor voided Starbucks coupons for free iced coffee. The e-coupons had been distributed to employees in the Southeast, to share with friends and family, but Starbucks turned off the tap when the coupons were forwarded “beyond the original intent.” Caribou will honor the coupons tomorrow from noon to eight p.m., in all of its 416 locations. Included are 53 stores in the southeast (Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia).

The promo is being used to publicize Caribou’s process of cold-brewing the coffee, rather than pouring hot coffee over ice as Starbucks does. The coupon announcement followed by three days a press release stating that Caribou was rolling out a program to offer free Wi-Fi in select locations. The free Internet access and the swipe at Starbucks’ promotional misfire together beg the question: Is Caribou a simple imitator or is it poised to improve on elements of the Starbucks model?

Interestingly, Minneapolis–based Caribou’s stock is up today, at $8.16 a share, an 8.4 percent increase over its price on Sept. 1, when it made the Starbucks announcement.


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