Coffee Shops: Standing Out In A Crowded City Through Customer Journeys

In today’s modern and fast lifestyle we often find ourselves needing to be in three places at once. When there’s traffic, coffee shops become our saviors in providing a place to meet up, when our internet goes out or when we need a place to chill on a Sunday afternoon, there’s always freshly brewed coffee to make us feel at home. So how come these coffee shops became so essential to our daily lives? Why does each individual have a different coffee brand they call their favorite? And what attracts these people to those stores?

A key piece of learning I will always remember from my final year studying marketing at university is that “a brand does three things: identifies, differentiates and commands a price premium, whilst also capturing the consumer’s head and heart”.  When we say this we ultimately mean that a brand has to attain a sustainable competitive advantage in order to survive today’s increasingly competitive marketplace.

What is a customer journey?

The customer journey or customer experience is the entire interaction between the customer and the brand; so every single touchpoint (store, service, packaging etc) the individual has with the brand. The customer experience should match the individual’s expectations and is important because it:

  1. Improves customer satisfaction

  2. Fosters repeat customers and customer loyalty

  3. Increases customer advocacy and referrals

  4. Reduces customer churn

  5. Creates a competitive advantage

  6. Increases revenue and sales

  7. Builds stronger customer relationships

(Beard, 2014)

Notice how these above 7 points fit in perfectly with the aforementioned university learning, we can see how the customer journey plays a pivotal role in a brand's success. 


The Starbucks Experience

So how can a brand stand out in a busy city, especially in a saturated market such as the coffee shop industry? Well this is where the customer journey fits in and most likely for many of the 7 billion people on this planet one word comes to mind: Starbucks. In every city whether it be London, Dubai or New York, Starbucks is a hub of creativity or is regarded as the ‘city’s living room’.

We’re going to take the customer on a journey

- Howard Schultz, Starbucks Exec Chairman

For example, my sister is a pretty well travelled person having lived between Europe, Russia, Jordan and now Bermuda, her advice to me when living in a foreign country has always been: if feeling homesick, stressed or generally a bit down… always find yourself a Starbucks and go sit in it for a while. Why? “Well Starbucks is awesome as they are the same everywhere but with a local twist, you feel comforted, it makes you feel at home”.  

Starbucks are the epitome of the brand customer journey. Obviously firstly known for their high quality speciality coffee, they have gone on to create a multi-dimensional intimacy with their customers. They capture a shared romance in their vision and bring it to life (Conlon, 2015). When a customer walks into a Starbucks they are immersed in other people in the cafe, the atmosphere (the aesthetics, plants, furniture, lighting, colors, textures, smells, sounds, and food) and of course the customer service which they receive. Therefore, Starbucks branding could be classed into the following:

Starbucks = Product + Service + Atmosphere

Here is a map to highlight the different Starbucks touchpoints and how a customer interacts with the brand:


The DRAFT Experience

So where does Blue Hat fit into Starbucks and the customer journey? Well firstly we’ll forget all about Starbucks and replace it with one of our beloved clients DRAFT. DRAFT is a local Saudi brand developed by Saudi designer Wadha Al Rashid, which focuses on Interior Design, a Concept Store, and the recently launched DRAFT Cafe. Wadha came to Blue Hat seeking support in connecting with the DRAFT audience and turning her brand into a lovemark.

Draft Logo - LR 2-1.jpg

How do we make a local coffee shop stand out from the crowd

and turn it into a creative hub in Riyadh?


Blue Hat developed a design led strategy to help connect with the DRAFT audience and establish an emotional customer journey whereby the DRAFT customer interacts with different touchpoints of the brand.

Our strategy covered the following:

  • Establishing the brand as the destination to find inspiration

  • Establishing the DRAFT tone of voice and themes

  • Identifying target audience and analyzing how to engage with different touch points

  • Identifying and harnessing trends (live video and short stories, relationship marketing, storytelling)

  • Creating unique online content

  • Designing online customer service and active community management

Screen Shot 2017-10-02 at 10.52.43.png

It must be noted that brand touchpoints are not just limited to a cafe. The consumer now interacts with a brand online through social media and so DRAFT needed to harness this tool in order to extend their customer service channel. Blue Hat therefore built a strong Instagram presence for DRAFT by:

  • Revolving its use of storytelling around “With DRAFT, you’ll always be inspired”

  • Sharing unique, inspiring, and lovable content - establishing the brand as quirky, friendly, urban and approachable

  • Making use of professional photography and quality images

  • Using the human aspect within all Instagram stories


View for example, previous DRAFT Instagram posts:

DRAFT’s strategy was positioned according to our research outcomes: high quality, a niche reputation, and tailored service, resulting in the establishment of an emotional customer connection. 


DRAFT Identifies: brand persona/concept can be easily identified by consumers
DRAFT Differentiates: Unique and emotional customer journey
DRAFT Commands Price Premium
DRAFT Captures the head and heart


Given that coffee is a vital world commodity meaning that there are thousands of different coffee brands and shops around the world, the brands that want to survive need to attain their sustainable competitive advantage. A sustainable competitive advantage is a brand’s asset, attribute or ability that is not easily duplicated or replicated by its competitors. As we can see in the above two examples a customer journey is the key to identify, differentiate, and command a price premium whilst capturing the head and heart. Therefore, by adopting a customer journey certain brands will be able to survive in the competitive coffee industry.


Check out DRAFT's Instagram

Our DRAFT portfolio 

... And of course stay tuned for the DRAFT website launch!



Further Reading