In Houston, we have hundreds of coffee shops competing for customer loyalty. Starbucks has a strong presence and Dunkin' Donuts is coming on strong, but in the old inner-city neighborhood called The Heights, locally-owned cafés rule. Here's the story of how a new coffee shop carved out a loyal following.
A New Orleans transplant, Kevin Blasini left a corporate career in the energy business during the boom times, looking for a happier home in the coffee culture, and a place to hang out with his neighbors. He wanted to know all his customers' names.
To build a sustainable business, Kevin differentiated his café using his personal values, while carefully selecting a location that matched. Then he called up the "power of AND" and conceived of a place called Equilibrium Social House:
- a walk-up cafe in a walkable neighborhood AND reasonable parking
- areas for socializing AND areas for working quietly
- healthy AND indulgent food
- coffee and tea AND beer and wine.
Functionally, the coffee, food and atmosphere had to be as good as the five other highly successful cafés in that neighborhood. But the emotional benefits had to be different. This unique customer experience is based on
- architecture that echoes the historic Craftsman-style homes in the neighborhood
- speaking to the interests of the residents with home-grown art, music and intellectual pursuits
- opportunities to get to know other people who are related by both place and interests
- adventurous chances to discover new products, ideas, and people.
Now known as EQ Heights, Kevin's business thrives by attention to the individual interests of a group strongly bound together by culture. At the same time, it's so welcoming to strangers that many sales people use it as a place to 'perch' between calls. Truly, it's a place that's found its equilibrium.
CustomerThink: Emotions Rule Customer Loyalty Index, 2016-Feb-22
“The consumer engagement process today is more dependent on emotional benefits... than ever,” said Robert Passikoff, president of Brand Keys.... "To succeed, marketers need to accurately answer these questions, ‘what drives my category, what are the emotional engagement values I need to focus on, how can my brand exceed consumer expectations for those emotional values?’ To their detriment, most brands can’t.”