Cautious Consumer Behavior & Your Menu

Consumers in almost every market avoid risk taking as a habit, and coffee consumers are no different. Consult any parent who has tried to introduce a new food to a child, if there is not substantial evidence that the unfamiliar blob on the plate is not going to taste good, then most kids will not let it near their mouth. Human behavior is inherently non-risky; even as consumers grow older they hang on to those comfort zone instincts. More often than not, the customers you see every day are going to take comfort in, “the usual.” This behavior pattern is not a problem until it is time to introduce a new flavor or an exciting new seasonal drink. Without the proper marketing preparation, it would be easy for your customers to ignore their new options.

Another pattern that takes place in most coffee shops is the post-order meander. Due to the amount of time it takes to create specialty beverages, many customers follow the custom of waiting between order placement and service. This wait can last as long as five minutes, depending on time of day and the number of people on staff. A large majority of people are spending this idle time on a phone or talking with a friend, but even your busiest customer will manage a few moments of boredom during their wait. This wait can be considered a nuisance in the pursuit of perfect customer service, but unless your café plans on cutting quality, the short wait will almost always exist.

At this point the correlation between consumer purchasing behavior and wait time may not be clear, but if a new product is on the horizon, then consumer behavior and wait time are highly relevant topics. Consumers don’t want to risk ordering something that is unfamiliar and potentially unpleasant, so marketing techniques must somehow reduce that risk factor (see USC study), and the most effective window of opportunity for solving this problem is the waiting area. Probability suggests that the last time you visited the doctor you picked up a magazine or opened one of those silly pamphlets. You probably learned something that you would not have explored on your own, but because you were unoccupied you were more susceptible to new ideas. Cafés can take advantage of this phenomenon by placing point of sale materials in the form of posters, flyers and pamphlets around the café. These materials can help reduce the fear of buying something unfamiliar, in effect increasing the likelihood that people will accept something new.

Point-of-sale materials like this poster from Red Espresso, come in many forms, but for every item on your café menu, there is likely a poster or counter card to match. Large product manufacturers have the resources and time to produce professional advertisements that would cost a lot of money for a small business owner. Product manufacturers also know that individual cafés cannot hire their own advertising firm, so they produce posters, pamphlets and information cards for free. On your next order with Stockton Graham & Co., just ask for some POS materials and we will send you a toolkit for free. All you have to do is let us know what your goals are, and we will do the rest. Consider the potential costs versus benefit of introducing more product advertising in your cafe. You could spend at most thirty extra seconds of time placing your order over the phone, but the benefit of higher sales and an ability to introduce new products with ease is hard to ignore.

Reid Jackson
Stockton Graham & Co.