Joe Cups, the owner of a small coffee company in mid-America, is looking for the next big idea. The company owns a few retail stores, having been in business and moderately successful for 8 years. Joe tells me that the stores are reasonably profitable so he has no debt and can fund his operations out of steady cash flow.
A Look at the Operations
They roast their own beans on-site -- their retail sites are wide-open, relaxed, and kind-of country-funky. There is a very strong local attachment to the company. Since it is a family operation, the recognition outside of the geographical area in which it operates is weak. Joe is committed to doing whatever it takes to grow his thriving business.
Their brand name is OK but certainly not special. He came up with the tagline -- Great coffee at great prices! – after a long evening of work at the main store. Joe Jr. gave his dad a nice drawing of coffee beans falling into a cup and that became the logo. Until now, Joe never thought about marketing his business.
Joe says he wants to grow his operations, so we meet early one morning and talk about his ideas over a nice cup of java. The maps of the existing retail operations are spread in front of us; which extend in many local and regional focal points. Next to one of the central stores, we mark the planned location of a new Starbucks. Everyone wants to move into the area –- Caribou just announced it is going to open a shop nearby and so might Dunkin’ Donuts. McDonald’s is considering a better brew as well.
The Store Strategy
Locals love Joe’s rustic stores, especially the bean grinding activities. After conducting a few surveys of current customers and potential prospects, we decide to make each store even more open to the clientele. Joe thinks that opening up the grinding activities to customers after watching the roasting, would boost business. And for good reason –- the open layout of the retail space already lends itself to watching the process. The aroma would attract more customers in the crucial morning hours.
As we talk about the brand, we discuss keeping it simple. Since much of the coffee he sells is well known locally, the aroma speaks for itself. Going with a name like JavAroma that everyone understands seems like a good idea. What will really get people talking is the batch of mugs we are producing –- they look hand made and each is different. Customers will be able to pick among taller, wider, smaller, thicker and thinner cups emblazoned with the simple beans from Joe Jr.’s drawing and the new name.
We decide to fit an instant photo booth in each of the stores, right next to a gigantic board where people will be able to put photos taken while holding their favorite mug. The booth can fit up to three people so that small families can even sneak in two little ones. The board will be the focus of in-store re-launches –- a panel of local coffee connoisseurs and customers will be selecting the best photos to publish in the company’s JavAroma bulletin alongside grinding bean news from the area.
Groups meeting at the shops in the morning can also brew their own pot of coffee right at the table. Joe noticed that many local business people tend to meet informally before heading to the office. There are also two chapters of business associations that assist recent graduates with job tips and mentoring. The open and friendly layout of the stores located in convenient proximity of some of the main arteries into and out of the city continues to attract those groups.
The Expansion Plans
There are many government buildings and offices in the center of town where the zone planning did not allow for any retail stores. These are area free of any close competition as well. Joe heard from the Mayor that many of the county employees would love to buy a cup of JavaAroma on their way into the building. We think that there may be an opportunity to propose brew-it-yourself coffee kiosks.
Due to fire concerns, many of the downtown office buildings were never fitted with kitchens so the kiosks outside would provide a nice opportunity to take a break and get a cup of java even after the morning rush. We decide to try with a couple placed in strategic crosswalks. The Mayor, a coffee lover and strong supporter of a local business, agrees to photo ops on opening day.
Joe agrees to a coordinated roll out of the new logo and tagline. The store instant photo contests have people line up around the corner for the opening. Each set of photos prints a custom message at the bottom –- people can express a motto or a favorite coffee memory in up to five words. Images and words are eligible for the grand prize of a brand new in-store coffee station named after the winner.
Store grinding bean contests are set up for groups and teams. The most popular show will be featured in JavAroma bulletin with a special reprint for the laminated table mats. The press drinks this up and decides to send its own team with photographer.
The traditional look of the kiosks we prepared fits with the open layout of the downtown area office park buildings. People are pleased with the convenience of self-service and the opportunity to exchange a few words with the knowledgeable and entertaining staff manning the kiosks. On rainy days they will be able to sip from their cup, which is not disposable, under the kiosk awning while they talk about their plans for the day with Rick, Jerry, or Sandra, who knows them by name.
Whether you are grinding, brewing or taking the coffee to go, there’s a mug in our store with your name on it. We decide to use the mugs as souvenirs and let people take them home or to the office with them. Many return with them or choose to have JavAroma keep them for the next time.
Get more aromatic ideas from other perspectives by Becky Carroll, Ann Handley, Gavin Heaton,