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    Starbucks Raises Prices in Four Regions

    Customers in the Pacific Northwest, Southern California, Hawaii and parts of the Midwest will pay 10 to 20 percent more; chain also adds holiday app and seasonal beverages.

    SEATTLE -- Starbucks raised some drinks prices and lowered others in four regions spread across the United States this week, according to a Seattle Times report.

    "As part of our regular review of pricing, some prices went up and some went down," said spokesman Alan Hilowitz, who cited "business conditions, commodities costs, occupancy costs, competitive reasons and geography" as reasons for the change.

    Starbucks locations in the Pacific Northwest, Southern California, Hawaii and parts of the Midwest are seeing increases of around 10 to 20 percent. Hilowitz noted that a 16-ounce brewed coffee, the most popular drink sold at the coffee chain, will continue to sell for the same price. When Starbucks last raised prices in 2010, CEO Howard Shultz said it was "trying desperately" not to impose across-the-board price increases in order to counteract the rising price of coffee.

    Despite the price increases, all Starbucks customers can enjoy winter cheer through the company's new holiday-themed mobile app and seasonal beverages. Starbucks Cup Magic is a free "augmented reality app" that allows users to discover Starbucks holiday characters found on red cups, coffee bags and signage and watch them enjoy holiday activities such as caroling and sledding.

    The app, currently available for Apple iPhones in the United States and Canada, iPod touch devices in the U.S. and soon for Android users, lets customers take snapshots of the holiday scene to send to friends via e-mail or Facebook and send Starbucks Card eGifts.

    "As part of Starbucks efforts to find innovative ways to engage customers and bring the Starbucks Experience to life, we are excited to introduce this fun new Starbucks Cup Magic app for customers to use to interact with holiday characters," said Annie Young-Scrivner, global chief marketing officer, Starbucks Coffee Co. "We are also happy to provide a warm and comfortable gathering place for our customers to connect over their favorite holiday beverage or serve as a one-stop-shop for a special gift for anyone on your list."

    To help kick off the holiday season, Starbucks customers are invited to bring a friend to participating locations from now through Nov. 20 at 2-5 p.m. and receive one free holiday beverage with the purchase of another holiday beverage of equal or greater value, the company said.

    This year's seasonal beverages include Peppermint Mocha, Gingerbread Latte, Caramel Brulée Latte, Eggnog Latte and the new Skinny Peppermint Mocha. New seasonal Starbucks Petites desserts include the Peppermint Brownie Cake Pop and Chocolate Crème Whoopie Pie.

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