A question that’s always interesting to ask people who run or manage cafes: how do you compete with Starbucks?
This is a question that’s been tackled several times. Here are some of the best reads about this:
- Quora – How do you compete with Starbucks in the coffee industry? My favorite answer here is from Peter Baskerville, who has experience running many coffeeshops over the years. He emphasizes focusing on fewer products, doing it well, encouraging your baristas to develop personal relationships with your customers, and keeping overheads low. His answer is really worth reading in full, because the nuances from real-world experiences are really helpful and interesting.
- The Guardian – Move over Starbucks: the indie coffee shops battling it out on the high street  “People want an experience when they’re drinking coffee out of home, and independent coffee shops try to package their product so people remember the experience around the coffee,” says Mintel food service analyst Trish Caddy.
- Hire Innovation – How Your Coffee Shop Business Can Compete With Starbucks “Starbucks CFO Maw also revealed how the “ubiquity” of the brand is a challenge for Starbucks to overcome. It contrasts with the creativity and innovation of start-up operators; the businesses that illustrate how your coffee shop business can survive and thrive. After all, we can take Dublin as a useful example of the Starbucks effect on local coffee shops. As the 21st Starbucks outlet launched in the Irish capital in April last year, the Daily Edge garnered the thoughts of independent coffee shops across the city. The verdict was broadly positive, perhaps even bullish – even if there is an issue of big chains driving up city centre rents.”
- Inc – How Indie Coffee Brands Are Taking on Starbucks’ Be-Everywhere Strategy “Young millennials are storming the market, and global demand for coffee is surging, with prices pushing $2 a pound. Some even predict the market could finish 2014 with its first supply deficit in three years–and remain that way through 2017. But Horn believes the Internet can bypass these issues by personalizing the shopping experience. “Our play is definitely different [from Starbucks]–it’s kind of like Pandora for coffee.” – Michael Horn, founder of Craft Coffee
- ToBusinessOwners.com – To: Coffee Shop Owners: How To Compete With Starbucks Starbucks is a large, multi-national corporation – and part of that means that they’ll never be able to maintain standards as high as a smaller, more focused operation. They try to please everyone, you’ll want to target a more specific niche. Starbucks depends on having a high turnover of customers – so make your coffeeshop more welcoming to patrons.
- GoDaddy.com – Local coffee shops CAN compete with Starbucks through brand marketing The main takeaway here is to focus on giving your coffeeshop a stronger atmosphere, a more potent story than the average Starbucks is capable of. Social media is a big leveller here – no average Starbucks is going to be able to tell as compelling a story as a local coffeeshop with its own personality. Use Facebook and Instagram to talk about what’s happening, what’s new. Be more personal.
PS: Here’s an analysis of Starbucks’ billion-dollar loyalty program. If you’d like to have your own version of it, designed for your needs, try a free trial of CandyBar.