The research firm IBISWorld estimates that the U.S coffee market is worth in the region of $30 billion. With that amount of money of offer it is not a surprise at all that seemingly everybody is attempting to claim a proportion of figure as their own. Gigantic multinational brands jostle over market position and then there is the third wave of coffee shops that are springing up, taking customers on a multi-sensory educational voyage with every cup. The sector may be worth a lot of money, but it is also extremely hard to successful jump into, especially from abroad.
South Korean coffee chain Caffe Bene– which has only been in existence for six years – is, however, attempting to make the leap from east-Asia to the Tri-State area.
“Big guy vs little guy”
“[I] couldn’t resist the challenge of going against Starbucks,” said John Barry, Caffe Bene’s US director of franchising. “I love going up against the big guy.”
Barry’s comments suggest that the Korean company is a minute entity, but with well over a 1,000 stores in Korea and China, they are anything but the David of coffee chains in the grand scheme of things.
Caffe Bene is attempting to set themselves apart from their rivals by focusing on a more continental style of coffee house; a location where customers are able to lounge around for an afternoon, devoid of the grab and go culture that has become common place. There will be food a smattering of traditional Korean delicacies and recipes, but they are aiming to be a coffee shop first and foremost, a planned decision that goes against the grain of Starbucks’ expansion into breakfast and evening sales.
Speaking to NorthJersey.com, Caffe Bene franchisee MiSun Jung explained how the chain initially set itself out targeting areas where there were large numbers of Korean-Americans – people who were already familiar with the store. But, after going from strength to strength, the patrons diversified.
Customer service is an area where the Korean firm are seeking to gain an advantage from: “We believe we have a better mousetrap that what’s currently out there,” Barry stated. People “want to be treated like human beings, be offered and catered to in a manner that they haven’t had before. And once we expose them to that, they tend to come back with greater regularity.”
But it isn’t just customer retention through positive service; their plans are also based around locational individuality.
“If we open in the Hispanic community in LA, I’m sure we’ll address the needs accordingly in terms of modifying the menu.”
“We’re like a chameleon.”