The Coffee Shop and Customer Experience: A Study of the U.S. Market

The Coffee Shop and Customer Experience: A Study of the U.S. Market

Patrizia de Luca (University of Trieste, Italy) and Giovanna Pegan (University of Trieste, Italy)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6074-8.ch010
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This chapter has the aim to improve understanding of the in-store customer experience in the retail environment by analyzing the business of coffee shops in the United States market with a specific focus on American and Italian chains. After a brief overview of the managerial literature on coffee shops, the main findings of the qualitative research is presented. In particular, this chapter outlines the features of the U.S. coffee shop landscape and explores American consumers' perception of the coffee shop experience using nethnography. The results show a complex framework from the offer and the demand perspective that could also contribute to supporting coffee companies in managing customer experience strategy in the American market.
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Coffee companies face a continuously evolving perspective on consumption in which new lifestyle trends create different competitive fields and new key factors. One of the most relevant trends is the growing development of out-of-home consumption; new coffee consumption occasions have emerged outside the home in several developed markets and in emerging markets (Gilmore, 2004; IBISWorld, 2013; OIFB-Osservatorio Internazionale Food Beverage, 2013; Wong, 2010). Further, the cultural hybridization created by opening new market perspectives has helped modify the architecture of the spaces dedicated to clients who are more refined and therefore ask for higher quality. As places, ways, and moments of consumption evolve, bars and similar places become aggregation sites. This suggests new ways of considering outdoor consumption. Today, pleasure and leisure play an important role in consumer culture (Belk, Guliz & Soren, 2003; Hirschman & Holbrook, 1982), and often “consumers enjoy leisure away from home and work in ‘third places’ such as cafés” (Karababa & Ger, 2010, p. 737). In other words, coffee shops have assumed a particular role in affecting sociocultural behavior and the consumption landscape in international markets (Agrawal, 2009; Thompson & Arsel, 2004).

Recently, the managerial literature on coffee and coffee shops has emphasized the importance of deepening the coffee shop experience in different contexts to understand its main drivers in creating a delightful coffee experience (Sathish & Venkatesakumar, 2011; Yu & Fang, 2009). As Pine and Gilmore (1998) emphasized, “consumers unquestionably desire experiences, and more and more businesses are responding by explicitly designing and promoting them” (p. 97). The literature recognizes the key role that a customer experience plays in determining the competitive success of a company in all industries (Carù & Cova, 2003; Hirschman & Holbrook, 1982; Pine & Gilmore, 1999; Resciniti, 2004; Schmitt, 1999; Verhoef et al., 2009). In particular, creating a memorable customer experience is a strategic objective in the retailing business. As several authors have pointed out, to manage the customers’ experience, retailers should understand what the experience actually means to them and which marketing tools could be relevant to influence this experience (Grewal, Baker, Levy & Voss, 2003; Naylor, Kleiser, Baker & Yorkston, 2008). According to a recent study:

The customer experience construct is holistic in nature and involves the customer’s cognitive, affective, emotional, social and physical responses to the retailer. This experience is created not only by those elements which the retailer can control (e.g., service interface, retail atmosphere, assortment, price), but also by elements that are out of the retailer’s control (e.g., in〉uence of others, purpose of shopping) (Verhoef et al., 2009, p. 32).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Coffee Shop: Establishments where coffee is the main beverage offered although food and other beverages are also available, especially nonalcoholic beverages and specialty snacks.

Store Atmosphere: The system of physical and social dimensions of a retail store affecting consumer perception and behavior.

Qualitative Research: The aim to gather an in-depth understanding of human behavior and the reasons at the basis of such behavior. It investigates above all the why and how of decision making and expresses all the different facets of the considered phenomenon. Thus, smaller focused samples are used instead of large samples. Consequently, qualitative research produces information for specific cases and is not generalizable.

Nethnography: Ethnography applied to the Web. This recognized method is frequently applied in the latest social and marketing research, usually to observe the complex underlying symbolic world of buying behavior and to explain consumers’ action-structured paths.

Third Wave Coffee: Part of the specialty coffee movement. It refers to a current movement to produce high-quality coffee, and consider coffee as an artisanal foodstuff rather than a commodity. The term refers chiefly to the American phenomenon since the 1990s and continuing today. Similar movements exist in other countries, such as Australia, New Zealand, and Scandinavia.

Online Community: A social network of individuals interacting through social media, with the aim of pursuing mutual interests or goals. It potentially crosses geographic and political boundaries.

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