Starbucks’ Pink Drink makes long-awaited mainland China debut

Starbucks’ internet famous Pink Drink just hit mainland Chinese stores and is already a hit with consumers.

As of May 30, four Pink Drink options are now available in mainland Chinese Starbucks outlets. Consumers can choose from the classic Pink Drink, or 3 equally fruity and brightly coloured alternatives – Strawberry Acai Lemonade, Dragon Drink, or Mango Dragonfruit Lemonade.

The Pink Drink began as an option on Starbucks’ so-called secret menu, which is shorthand for its infinitely customisable options. One creamy and fruity combo of strawberry, acai, and coconut milk became so popular that it eventually entered Starbucks’ official menu in 2017. In store, it can be found under the “Refresher” name, but it continues to be known as the Pink Drink on social media.

The marketing for the mainland China product launch emphasizes the beverages’ unroasted green coffee beans, taking “raw coffee Refresher” as its Chinese name. The promotional posters for the launch present the Pink Drink as an alternative to mainstream coffee options, posing questions like “What if you just want a gentle caffeine lift?” and “Do coffee beans always need to be roasted?”.

With this narrative, Starbucks is tapping into the pain points of consumers who wish to avoid strong caffeine hits. The marketing strategy is also a response to the rise of artisan coffee culture in Chinese cities as it pays homage to those coffee-loving urbanites that prefer a more playful creation over high-brow choices.

Netizens were enthusiastic about Pink Drink’s debut, with hundreds of Weibo (Chinese Twitter) users jumping into the comments section to share their reviews of the “refreshing” and “delicious” drink. The Weibo hashtag for the product launch has received close to 20 million views as of May 30.


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