Hot beverages: striking the health-indulgence balance

Starbucks is to remove Chantico, the rich hot chocolate drink launched with much fanfare at the beginning of last year, from its menus in the US. While the move is somewhat surprising given the increasing popularity of chocolate-based hot beverages, it is clear that Starbucks needs to reassess the delicate balance between indulgence and health when considering a replacement.

The failure of Chantico represents a rare let-down for Starbucks, and is particularly surprising when one considers the deluge of indulgent chocolate-based drinks currently hitting the hot beverage market.

Taste and health remain the top two most important motivators of consumers' food and drink choice, yet these two needs are often diametrically opposed. The best tasting, most indulgent products are often the least healthy, and vice versa. As consumers wrestle to factor both of these need states into their daily eating and drinking, hot drinks specialists such as Starbucks should respond by offering products that do not forego one for the other.

Consumers are becoming more demanding of their beverage choices, and Starbucks needs to cater to this with its replacement for Chantico, firstly by offering the kind of control over the product ingredients that customers have grown to both expect and enjoy, and secondly by marketing healthy-indulgent offerings both on their functional benefits - such as the antioxidant properties of chocolate - and on their gourmet status.

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