Betacup challenge

Prototype. Test. Change Behaviors.

As part of a “Drink Sustainably” design challenge team for Starbucks (via, I first concepted alone, then collaborated virtually with other designers around the world to come up with the “sirena” concept.

Here’s the creative brief:

The concept works in addition to, not instead of, the other great ideas that are already in use or being proposed — from the use of recycled paper cups to encouraging customers to bring in their own mugs to Starbucks.sirena

The idea centers on testing a new concept in the marketplace while gradually working to change the behaviors of coffee-drinkers, especially American coffee-drinkers. Many of us, myself included, don’t think twice about drinking from a paper cup while in the Starbucks stores. Using paper cups has become habitual for both customers and baristas.

But, what if Starbucks tested some “for-here-only” stores?

Starbucks would select a few stores in appropriate market(s) and do some quick prototyping for testing purposes. Prototyping would include a name change from Starbucks to “sirena”, the Latin equivalent of “mermaid.” The pronunciation of the word “sirena” also has a relaxing connotation.

The “sirena” concept will be the same as the Starbucks concept except that “sirena” stores will only serve coffee in porcelain mugs or cups & saucers. Patrons will simply enjoy their coffee in the store or on the patio. Food will be served on plates. There will be no “to go” options at “sirena” locations. Drinks and food will still be served up at the counter by Starbucks baristas. Customers can use small trays to take their selections to nearby tables.

The prototype stores will be current Starbucks stores. Temporary vinyl signage with the “sirena” logo will cover the Starbucks logos indoors and out. Product packaging will continue to bear the Starbucks brand identity.

The “sirena” prototype store concept will be marketed via word-of-mouth and social media. Costs will be contained during the testing phase wherever possible.

The idea is to prototype quickly and test, listen, observe and learn. Upfront analysis will be kept to a minimum. The concept will be allowed to evolve and improve as testing reveals additional information.

It is important to note that the products will not change from the Starbucks stores to the “sirena” concept stores. The “sirena” brand would be a line extension associated with the in-store experience only.

The goal of the “sirena” concept is to gradually reshape coffee-drinking behavior. This test may reveal that coffee drinkers more readily embrace the “sirena” store concept in the afternoon or evening and/or on weekends. The “sirena” store could become a place to meet friends, relax and unwind after working hours. As more and more of us embrace the concept over time, additional Starbucks locations would convert to the new concept. There will continue to be a major place for the original Starbucks concept in the marketplace.

Paper cup consumption will go down with the “sirena” model. In the process, we may learn to slow down a bit and more readily engage with our fellow human beings. © All rights reserved.

Although our concept did not win an award, the entire experience sharpened our collaboration and teaming skills.

by Rebecca Cochran