The Starbucks Cold Cup Is the Internet's Underground Must-Have Phenomenon
Starbucks reusable cups have reached near-Supreme collectible status, and people are going above and beyond to collect them all. The Seattle coffee chain first introduced the Cold Cup line in 2018, and just a few years later, people are swooping in to buy and resell the cups on sites like Facebook Marketplace, Poshmark, Etsy and eBay.
For those who have paid attention to promo news over the last year, you might remember that Starbucks branded items were selling like hotcakes in Korea. But that was much more than just a reusable cup.
What is it that makes the Starbucks cups so unique in demand?
For one, they're functional. Fast food chains are starting to phase out single-use plastics and paper products in favor of reusable products. So, if you're a Starbucks regular, having a refillable cup for your daily drink makes environmental sense.
— Juicee1_ 🇨🇻 (@CapeverdeanQt) March 5, 2022
But, again, plenty of places have reusable cups. Why is it that people are reportedly going from store to store to track down the latest release for these, specifically?
Well, let's remember that Starbucks is one of the most recognizable brands in the world, and is nearly synonymous with quick coffee stops.
Like Beanie Babies before them, the cups have created groups of people forming teams and groups to hunt down the latest and most coveted releases. According to Pure Wow, some groups have as many as 20,000 members who share information on collecting designs.
Did I need another StarBucks tumbler, no, no I did not. Did I see it and think it’s so pretty and should be mine, yes, yes I did! Do I use the ones I already own, no, no I do not!! Ugh so of course I bought it, it was the last one!! 😉 #Starbucks #Spring #Tumblers #March2022 pic.twitter.com/thzeTnuZmD
— BlondeCanuck (@canuck_blonde) March 5, 2022
Since Starbucks is an international company, too, buyers want that added exclusivity factor of foreign releases. One collector told Pure Wow that the international releases "have more variety—there are iridescent cups and rainbow and oil slick designs."
When hype is at its highest, aka closest to the product's release day, the price can get into the hundreds for a cup. Resellers buy them up en masse for the sake of lining their own pockets.
For Starbucks, is that such a bad thing, though? There's a whole economy built around a single promotional product. The company just needs to fan those flames by releasing them at appropriate intervals and with designs that people want.
More than anything, this phenomenon underscores the power of a well-known logo, a functional product, and just enough exclusive hype to get the youths interested.
From Starbucks' perspective, even though a lot of this takes place on resale sites, it's done exactly what it wanted to do with these cups, and then some.