We are so busy building our brands that we often forget what are brands are supposed to do in the new world. But every now and again we are given a simple reminder on why we give our loyalty to certain companies:
They recognise our brand and self importance. They brand us, and not just themselves. Sometimes they do this via association, and sometimes they do it more directly like the picture above. My coffee custom could go to a lot of places, and call me old fashioned, but I do like it to go somewhere where they make the effort to learn and use my name.
Sometimes the simplest loyalty strategies are the most effective.
Which ones does your startup employ to recognise your early adoptors?
Prufrock coffee who created the worlds first disloyalty card.
The card to encourages their clients to sample the wares of quality coffee shops around their local region in London. Which is completely counter intuitive to sound business practice.
How does it work?
If a disloyalty member tries all 8 coffees on the above card , it will earn you a free coffee at your next visit to Prufrock Coffee. The interesting part is that it was conceived to keep ‘coffee customers’ out of the four walls of the ever encroaching Starbucks behemoth. The disloyalty card created a community of coffee lovers that could compete the ‘way of an artisan’. Something Starbucks could never do. It might just help keep them out. In this instance the community matters more than the trader. This is the new collaborative world we are in transition towards. A community who vest their interests in each other.
What can your startup do to flip the rules and do what a bigger competitor never could?
Iterating in business is an art form. It’s how we grow and find a path to establish the features that matter. It’s not about more, it’s about finding what works, which means that as we morph and change, certain features must be sacrificed, left or or purposely cut off. Nature exemplifies this. Nature takes time to roll out new features, and is well prepared to sacrifice old ones which no longer pay their way. Nature takes years to develop the perfect mix, but is in a constant state of evolution.
The coffee market has been one of the most interesting category evolutions we’ve seen in the past decade or so. Especially given the drink has been around thousands of years. What’s most interesting is that it was a commodity market at brand and retail level for the largest part of the past 60 years. Granules in a tin which one mixes with boiling hot water. Large brands then competed on price with occasional soapie style advertising.
Enter coffee culture and in 15 short years everything has changed. Coffee isn’t coffee anymore. Coffee is latte, coffee is short machiato, coffee is espresso, coffee is arabica versus robusta. But it evolved slowly, and the latest trend in coffee drenched Melbourne is cold dripped coffee. The point for startups is simple: we can’t go from Nescafe blend 43 straight to cold drip coffee. We have to take people on a journey with us, chapter by chapter. Shown below is another photo essay of a coffee haunt on little Collins Street Melbourne called Sensory Lab.
The question for entrepreneurs is what industry can we invent a journey to take people on?
It was Friday night and I was having a drinks with colleagues who were discussing the relative taste profiles of various beers. I went on challenge the crowd that they wouldn’t know which beers was which in a blind taste test. None of them believed me.
Turns out it’s true. I once worked in a marketing role at Fosters, and 90% of beer drinkers cannot pick any brand within the same type (eg lager, pillsner, bitter ale). Beer is not bought on taste, it’s bought by brand. Sure, there are other factors which come into the decision like availability and price. But both trail and subsequent loyalty is never about taste.
So we have to know what we are selling. Not in the primary sense (the physical product) but in the secondary sense, the real motivation which makes us choose brand A over brand B. And in most categories it’s not what it seems
Beer = fashion
Electricity = company interactions
Coffee = socialisation
Cameras = memory library
For entrepreneurs the message is simple, we must know what we are selling. It’s most often how we market the secondary benefit which will drive our brand over the competitor.
One of my favourite marketing strategies is this:
A new distribution point.
The thing that is cool about this is that we don’t need to worry about whether there is demand for the product or service (the idea is to pick a category which is hot) Rather just to ensure expanded availability creates value.
Been Squeeze are on the coffee wagon.
When I first read about Coffee Drive in’s via Springwise I was a bit skeptical. But I’ve found it to be just the ticket while I’m driving down the coast for a surf. And every time I go there it’s quite busy.
Here’s what’s exactly the same with Been Squeeze and any other espresso coffee retailers:
- the coffee taste
- the price points
- the packaging
- The promotion (based on high traffic location )
Here’s whats different – the way & where you buy the coffee. So what this does for a startup is reduce strategic complexity because the ‘coffee model’ is proven. Demand for coffee exists – they are just leveraging it further. Ther are no prizes for originality in business – just making for making cool stuff and making profits.
The real kicker for me is their service which is very friendly – more like a cafe than a McDonalds. In fact on my last visit on Saturday than even asked for my other coffee cup from the previous day to put in the trash for me. And now I am talking about it.