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Identifying Unique Selling Proposition (USP) in the U.S. Coffee Market: The Maven Coffee Challenge (Honorable Mention)

Tools used in this project
Identifying Unique Selling Proposition (USP) in the U.S. Coffee Market: The Maven Coffee Challenge (Honorable Mention)

22022024_Maven Coffee Challenge_Report

About this project

About the Dataset

The dataset comprises responses from approximately 4,000 Americans following a blind coffee tasting organized by YouTube coffee guru James Hoffmann and Cometeer. This unique experiment aimed to offer a consistent tasting experience nationwide. Following the tasting session and submission of surveys, information about each of the four coffees tasted was disclosed. Further details can be found in the complete dataset documentation.

Challenge Objective

The Maven Coffee Challenge presents a unique opportunity to leverage your analytical expertise. You’ll assume the role of a consultant for a group of investors seeking to enter the US coffee market. While they possess valuable data from “The Great American Coffee Taste Test,” they require assistance in transforming it into actionable insights. This challenge invites you to showcase your data analysis skills and contribute to the strategic development of a new coffee shop venture.

The investors want your help with figuring out how to launch their first coffee shop. They’re interested in three key areas:

  1. Who are their ideal customers? What kind of people will they attract, and what do those people like in a coffee shop?
  2. What should they sell? This includes the types of coffee beans, drinks, and possibly even food options.
  3. How much should they charge? The goal is to find the right price that balances what customers are willing to pay with how much profit the shop needs to make.

They’re open to any other ideas you have based on data analysis, so feel free to share anything that might give them an edge!

Data Limitations

The survey is subject to two potential limitations:

  1. Selection bias: The recruitment of participants through volunteer sampling introduces the possibility of selection bias. As volunteers self-select into the study, they may not be representative of the target population. In this case, the participants being fans of James Hoffman or simply volunteers interested in coffee tasting could lead to an unrepresentative sample, potentially affecting the generalizability of the findings to the broader population.
  2. Missing data: The participation rate of 4,042 respondents out of 5,000 initial participants suggests the presence of missing data. Incomplete data sets can hinder the comprehensiveness of the analysis and potentially introduce bias if the missing data is not randomly distributed. This can affect the internal validity of the study and the reliability of the conclusions drawn.

Introduction

What are the things I need to know if I want to open a coffee shop?

It’s crucial to prioritize a customer-centric approach. Understanding who your target audience is will be key. You’ll need to ask yourself some important questions: Who will be buying my coffee? Why do they drink coffee? When do they usually drink it? What kind of coffee do they like? How much are they willing to spend on it?

Before you get into the details, it’s also important to look at the coffee industry as a whole. There are already a lot of coffee shops out there, and many of them offer similar things. So, you need to decide: Do you want to be just like everyone else, or do you want to stand out? This decision will have a big impact on the success of your business in the long term.

Branding: The Key Differentiator in a Saturated Market

The coffee industry in Indonesia, particularly my city, faces fierce competition with numerous indistinguishable brands. However, successful examples like Tuku Coffee (KOPI TUKU), Kenangan Coffee (Kopi Kenangan), and Janji Jiwa demonstrate the power of strong branding.

Tuku Coffee, for instance, thrives on its “Go-To” takeaway concept. Their small stores and limited seating cater specifically to on-the-go coffee consumers. While other businesses might offer similar coffee, Tuku Coffee sets itself apart through consistent and effective marketing and branding efforts that clearly communicate their Unique Value Proposition (USP).

Customers queueing in Tuku Coffee Shop

This report highlights the importance of understanding consumer behavior in the coffee market. By analyzing market segmentation data, you can identify opportunities to differentiate your business.

For example, targeting specific demographics like genders or individuals with specific dietary needs, while representing a smaller market segment, allows your brand to become the top-of-mind choice for that particular customer group.

These are just a few insights this report offers, and the next section will delve deeper into its contents.

The Journalistic Report

undefinedThe main objective of this challenge is to use the findings from The Great American Taste Test to develop a data-driven strategy for launching a coffee business in the U.S. To achieve this, I’ve created a journalistic report providing valuable insights into the U.S. coffee industry. This report aims to offer stakeholders a comprehensive understanding of the market and includes actionable recommendations for opening a coffee shop, all grounded in real data.

The report is segmented into six sections, each designed to provide concise delivery of key information.

Section 1: Demographic Overview

This section is important to highlight the profile of the respondents who answered all the questions. The information is provided to acknowledge bias due to insufficient certain categories compared to another.

The survey results, while not a perfect match to the U.S. population, has a strong representation of White respondents (77%). This aligns with the general trend of Whites being the majority race in the United States. Coffee preferences can vary within racial groups. Even among White respondents, factors like region, age, income, and individual tastes influence choices.

Considering the ethnicity factor is crucial for making informed decisions when opening a coffee business in different regions. You may refer to reliable sources, like the** U.S. Census Bureau** or Visual Capitalists for accurate information on the ethnic breakdown of different regions.

Section 2: Blind Taste Test Result

This section explores the relationship between ethnicity and coffee preferences by analyzing the outcomes of a blind taste test conducted among respondents.

The blind taste test results indicate a dominance of light roast preference among respondents, aligning with their reported roast level preferences before blind tasting. Furthermore, natural processed coffee (D) with a fruity flavor received a slight edge over washed coffee (A), suggesting a potential niche market for specialty offerings.

Section 3 — Price Sensitivity

This section dives into understanding how much the respondents are able and willing to spend on coffee. This information will help businesses set appropriate price ranges (both minimum and maximum) for their coffee drinks. By understanding how much people typically spend and their willingness to spending more, businesses can choose the best pricing strategy.

The correlation between these factors can vary depending on the context and market conditions. Generally, consumers with higher buying power may be less price sensitive and more willing to pay higher prices for products or services they perceive as offering greater value or meeting their specific needs. Conversely, consumers with lower buying power may be more price sensitive and have lower willingness to pay, seeking out lower-priced alternatives or waiting for discounts and promotions. However, there are exceptions, and other factors such as brand perception, product differentiation, and individual preferences can also play significant roles in determining consumer behavior.

The Millennials (aged 25–44) present a significant opportunity as a target market for marketing and branding activities. This segment is characterized by high coffee consumption (typically spending $20–60 monthly) and being in their productive years.

Section 4 — Selecting the Beans

This section focuses on the roast preference of the respondents, based on the survey results. It’s important to consider this information when choosing pre-roasted beans from suppliers to ensure your offerings align with customer tastes.

While prioritizing light/medium roasts aligns with customer preferences, offering strategic options like less intense dark or light roasts can attract a wider customer base and contribute to long-term success.

Section 5 — Favorite Coffee Drinks and Motivations for Consumption

This section focuses on two key aspects influencing coffee preferences. First, it investigates potential biological sex-based variations in beverage choices among respondents, exploring whether distinct preferences exist between male and female participants. Second, it delves into the underlying motivations behind coffee consumption, identifying the primary drivers that compel respondents to drink coffee.

Coffee preferences exhibit gender-based disparities. While both genders enjoy diverse coffee options, males demonstrate a slight inclination towards pour-over coffee, whereas females exhibit a preference for lattes. It is noteworthy that the study sample comprised a considerably larger male population compared to females.

The report reveals that the leading reasons for coffee consumption are enjoyment of taste, caffeine intake, and the ritualistic aspect. While less common, other reasons like “needing to poop” were also mentioned. This comprehensive understanding of motivations can be valuable for crafting effective marketing and product development strategies.

Section 6: Business Strategy Recommendations

A successful strategy in the U.S. coffee industry requires a comprehensive understanding of the competition. This includes identifying areas where companies are similar (Points of Parity) and areas where they stand out (Points of Difference), regardless of whether they are new entrants or established players.

Points of Parity (PoP) refer to the characteristics or features that are common among competing products or brands within an industry. These are the essential elements that a product or service needs to possess to be considered competitive and even be considered for purchase by consumers. They represent the baseline expectations that customers generally expect from any product or service in a specific category.

Points of Difference (PoD), on the other hand, are the unique characteristics or features that distinguish a product or brand from its competitors. These are the factors that set a product apart and give it a competitive advantage. They are what convince consumers to choose your product over the others.

While competitive parity plays a crucial role in establishing initial consumer consideration within the coffee industry, differentiation remains equally essential to achieve long-term success.

Key findings from the report guide new entrants in navigating this balance:

  • Directly impacting flavor profile (potential PoD), sourcing high-quality beans can be crucial.
  • Light and medium roasts are widely preferred, aligning with competitor offerings in this aspect (PoP).
  • Understanding consumer spending habits is vital for setting price points sensitive to cost (PoP).
  • Offer popular menu items, including pour-over, lattes, and regular drip coffee alongside basic add-ons like milk alternatives and sweeteners aligns with consumer preferences (PoP).

The fiercely competitive coffee industry demands differentiation through the establishment of Unique Selling Points (USPs) to ensure long-term sustainability.

A unique selling point (USP), also known as a unique selling proposition, is the key element that distinguishes your product or service from competitors and convinces customers to choose yours. It essentially boils down to the specific benefit or value proposition that only your offering delivers.

Both new entrants and established players can leverage these strategic approaches to carve out their niche:

Option 1: Niche Targeting

Analyze “unpopular” reasons for coffee consumption, such as aiding digestion, to appeal to specific customer segments and become their preferred choice. Additionally, ensure the market attractiveness of this segment by collecting more data.

Option 2: High-Value Customer Targeting

Offer experiential marketing, featuring a welcoming ambiance, premium coffee beans, exceptional service, exclusive membership benefits, and compelling brand narratives to justify premium pricing and attract customers with a higher willingness to pay.

Option 3: Naturally Processed Coffee

Capitalize on the growing preference for fruity and fermented notes by offering naturally processed coffee, catering to a wider audience.

Option 4: Understanding the Coffee Ritual

Understand the daily coffee routine and strive to become the preferred choice through exceptional customer experiences. By analyzing the customer journey, businesses can strategically intervene and become an integral part of their daily habits.

The key lies in communicating your brand’s unique selling proposition (USP) and target market effectively and consistently. This can be achieved through integrated branding and marketing initiatives implemented across various platforms frequented by your potential customers.

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Discussion and feedback(4 comments)
comment-974-avatar
VINAYAK SRINIVASAN
VINAYAK SRINIVASAN
about 2 months ago
Great Report. Crystal Clear. All the Best!

comment-977-avatar
Chris Dutton
Chris Dutton
about 2 months ago
Great work here Iwa! I love your approach and how you walked through your thought process in the description. The report itself is clear, polished, and follows a nice logical flow – well done! 👏
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