Designing a compelling coffee program or retail coffee experience, you need to take into account the entire consumer journey. Everything from need state (Hmmm, I’m getting tired, maybe I should go somewhere to get some coffee) to decision making (Hmmm, where should I go?) to consuming (Hey, this is good coffee) and connecting (I like those folks at Irving Farms). Depending on how you analyze the journey, there could be dozens of touchpoints along the way that each need to be carefully planned. To illustrate this, let’s look at one of them.
We’ll focus on something simple. The cup. A coffee cup can be an important tool and appears at a few points along a consumer journey map. Seeing someone with a cup on the street. Seeing the cups stacked in the store. Holding the cup and drinking the coffee, which may even involve reading the cup.
Does a cup design affect the consumer’s coffee experience? Of course it does. A coffee cup is an interesting thing. It’s a package but you don’t buy it while it’s on the shelf. It doesn’t need to compete on shelf with other coffee cups. It’s a purchase reinforcement. It’s like when you buy Eleni’s cookies online. It’s the cookies you’re buying but when you get that box, that incredible box, it reinforces the quality, the taste and the specialness of those cookies. Cups can also feel special, like when you hold a well-designed, double-insulated paper cup where the sleeve is attached and goes from top to bottom. Cups can also communicate. Often there are stories of heritage or origin on the cups. If you’re sitting for 20 minutes with a cup, chances are you may read what’s there. Coffee cups can also be status symbols, much like carrying around a Green LOVE juice from Organic Avenue.
You would think that coffee cups need to show taste appeal and therefore display dark and warm colors, but companies are doing very different things with coffee cups. They can be brand focused, story focused, coffee focused. Coffee cup design should in some way come back to brand strategy but also take consumer journey into account.
So what color is coffee? Well it’s brown I guess but not all retailers are following along. I would say coffee definitely isn’t white but look at Starbucks. They really stand for coffee and they are also a badge brand. People are proud of their Starbucks so they can get away with a logo on a plain white cup. Dunkin is actually missing an opportunity while doing the same thing. An opportunity exists for all brands to deliver an emotional benefit through these coffee cups. Dunkin is wrong for just putting a logo on a cup. It’s not enough to identify with. Dunkin has rabidly loyal followers but they aren’t a badge brand. They should be taking advantage of how many impressions they get from their cups and using them thoughtfully. People drink coffee every day and they need a daily affirmation of who we are and who they want to be. Why can’t a coffee cup deliver that?
Here is a look at some coffee cups that cover a range of strategies. Drink up!