Build Your Strategy on the Habit of Coffee.

By John Buckner — SVP, National Account Sales


Ever wonder why getting a good start on your day is so dependent on coffee?  The answer lies in the critically acclaimed book called, The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg, a New York Times journalist.  In the book, Duhigg breaks down the neural pathway that is formed in our brains that makes habits even more powerful than addiction.  It starts with a cue, or the trigger, that leads to a routine, or the behavior of the habit, and ends with a reward.  Our daily lives are almost 50 percent pure habit.  The brain takes a break during these habits saving itself for more important decisions (perhaps the beginning of new habits) that must be made.  Great destinations capitalize on the habit of coffee.  They have perfected the cue–routine–reward pattern that becomes such an incredible ritual in our lives.

It all begins with the cue.  Cues could be time, place, emotion, presence of others or a preceding action — or they can be a compilation of some or all of these.  Think about your own coffee habit.  I bet you can name the time, the place, the presence of others and the emotions that contribute to your total coffee experience.

If you are like me, you follow a morning ritual.  My place is at work.  I am actually the guy who most often makes the coffee in our break room.  When I open the packet, the aroma jumps out at me.  I pour the coffee in the filter — more aroma.  I put the basket in the brewer and push the button.  Wow, my cues include a lot of preceding actions.  By this time, I say good morning to Erin, Karen, Jobee and Helen.  We remark about the weather with all eyes on that brewer as the elixir of our passion drips steadily into the glass carafe.  I grab my preferred mug, and they grab theirs.  I like to be the one to pour the coffee for everyone, and we all take that first sip together, toasting another day in marketing at S&D Coffee & Tea.

The reward that follows may be the most powerful incentive of my day.  I get warm, smooth, beautiful tastes with notes of blueberry and chocolate (we drink really good coffee) and in a few short minutes, my mind rockets into perfect clarity.  Sip and relax.  Sip and relax.  My brain grows sharp.  Maybe I begin to drink gulps as I get near the bottom of the mug.  It’s almost time to brew another pot.

If I was by myself, the ritual would still be good (62 percent of coffee is consumed alone) but with friends or colleagues the ritual is made complete (32 percent of the time) and the habit becomes even stickier.

If you are already one of those establishments that can honestly be called a coffee destination, you are in luck.  The intractable coffee habits of your consumers ensure an annuity for years to come.  For those trying to break or change consumer coffee habits to intervene in this revenue stream, your beverage strategy has to accomplish two things: 1) you must build up your “coffee cue” utilizing a potent combination of time, place, emotion, presence of others and preceding action and 2) the reward has to be the most compelling coffee experience you can possibly muster.  The way you structure your cue and your reward is your unique coffee proposition.  Contemplate this very carefully.  The psychology of habit suggests your annuity awaits.

Looking for a coffee that matches your needs? The S&D Specialty Coffee Collection offers three tiers of coffee, giving you the power to choose a premium coffee offering that delivers both exceptional flavor for customers and unmatched value for your bottom line.