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?

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