Cafés – indepedents versus the big brands

16 June 2008
Cafés – indepedents versus the big brands

"Cafés are big business", says Martin Lines, marketing director, Nestlé Professional. "The UK branded coffee chain market is worth £1.3bn and encompasses around 3,000 outlets. That means there's room for growth with burgeoning levels of coffee shop visitors taking annual turnover growth to an estimated £1.8bn by 2010 . While it's recognised that the big branded chains are driving this growth, numbers of independent outlets are expected to grow at 4.2% per year, showing steady popularity .

So, what does David have that Goliath hasn't? Well - independent purchase power can be a plus point. But independents have one key advantage and that is the option to tailor their own beverage menu to their locality and align products and suppliers, in order to keep their proposition fresh. There are now a range of products and systems available to all café and coffee shops, from specialist roast & ground equipment such as Nestlé Roma Bean to Cup machine to the convenient soluble Nescafé Milano range, all of which ensure that whichever end of the market your business caters for, you can offer a great tasting range of coffees which generate a significant margin.

What else can the independent do? According to research, café owners with foresight are looking at their total offering, incorporating deli and bakery concepts to complement hot beverages on offer. The key trends to consider here are for fresh, healthy foods, authenticity, indulgence and convenience. Local operators may want to consider a local treat or delicacy that sells well in their own region.

And, what can we learn from the chains? Well - a significant number of customers 'take away' coffees and treats to drink on the go. This is a service that can easily be implemented and boost sales. Conversely, independents may win out by boosting customers' dwell time. Research tells us that the outlets' environment (comfortable seating, attractive décor, room to spread out) is growing in importance as customers look to their coffee bar as a place of relaxation. Added to this, 'convenience of location' is also key, which is good news to independents situated among busy local shops.

Hosting events for the local community has also proved popular over the last decade; incorporating everything from open mic poetry nights, to knitting groups for the customers of all ages. Local marketing is key - look to highlight any in-shop activity in your local paper; run a takeaway service online; and advertise offers through in-store posters, table tent cards and outside swing signs.

Everyone's different and your offer should match the personality of your business and the demands of your customers. Nestlé Professional works in partnership with a whole host of independent coffee shops, as well as national coffee businesses, to help inspire growth and provide beverage ingredients, machines, service and marketing support that's right for you".

For more advice and information, simply call Nestlé Professional on 0845 742 842 or visit

Source: Nestlé Professional

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