gE Blog Series: Global Branding Part 3 - Branding in the Coffee Industry
The food and beverage industry covers an assortment of products and companies within. It happens to include one of the largest commodity markets, coffee. With its distinctive socio-cultural ties, coffee has been produced, branded, and marketed uniquely in every part of the world. With any product, various factors must be taken into consideration when developing a brand: consumption patterns, cultural relevance, product expectation, and marketplace competition to name a few. Branding essentially tries to build an emotional kinship with the consumer that transcends the products actual function. Brands aspire to create an identity, a lifestyle to live by.
Brand expectation also fluctuates by cultural outlook. American society places emphasis on the environmental awareness and social responsibility of their drink (e.g. fair-trade, organic), while most European and South American have adopted certain brews as national treasures (e.g. Sumatra blend from Indonesia, Columbian roast from the Andes, Arabica from Turkey, Robusta originating from Vietnam). A company must include all these aspects into their final product, but emphasize various aspects depending on the social demographics.
Companies competing in the coffee industry are a perfect example of how brand definition should be altered based on cultural connotations. Nescafé, a multinational coffee supplier, branded their products as memories that create lasting impressions in Southeast Asia. Whereas, in the United States, their brand has been built as the “Taster’s Choice”, satisfying a consumer’s need for caffeine while fulfilling their desires.
Some may see the dark beverage as offering a brief time for mental recuperation and relaxation done during a “coffee break,” while others might view it as a leisurely café drink to be enjoyed slowly in the company of friends. Thus, a different brand is derived, and a distinctive emotional connection put to the test. What other industries do you see trying to transform a commodity into a lifestyle?