How To Break Stubborn Customer Habits So They’ll Buy Your Coffee
I have a confession to make: selling coffee is hard.
Yes, I am a full-time marketer in the coffee industry, and I operate a coffee marketing newsletter. But it’s still hard. Harder than selling most things, if you can believe it.
You might have the best coffee in the whole world. CoffeeReview.com may give you 100 points. The SCA might do something crazy and make your brand the official coffee of the 2022 Specialty Coffee Expo.
And you would still struggle to sell your coffee.
Coffee customers and their existing morning routines are hard to crack, and there’s a well-studied reason why.
The Psychology of the Status Quo
Whether you’re a roaster or a coffee shop, you face an uphill battle against one of the greatest enemies out there: the way things are today.
Change is hard (science says so). And to get people to accept change — let alone pay money for it — you’ll have to address these challenges up-front.
- Loss Aversion — People are more motivated by the threat of losing things they already have than gaining new things they don’t. For example, customers are averse to losing confidence in good-tasting coffee they know they already like, as well as losing money on beans they don’t like.
- Exposure — People trust companies and people they’ve encountered over and over again. Studies show that it takes the average person seeing an advertisement seven times before they want to try a new product. It takes time for people to warm up to new things.
- Routine — Coffee rituals are built into established morning routines. You’re not just selling fresh beans. You’re selling an altered morning experience, and that’s not exactly an easy sell.
How to Help Customers Take a Risk on Your Coffee Brand
It’s easy to become frustrated by customers who don’t purchase or click with your branding, especially when you feel they’d be a great fit and love your products.
Instead, focus on what you can control. There are some practical ways you can help potential customers overcome their attachment to the status quo.
- Have answers to objections. People are listing potential downsides with buying from you in their head, consciously or not. Don’t shy away from them. Address those concerns up-front with a solution to de-risk the choice to buy from you
- Example: “I don’t want to disrupt my routine with beans I don’t like” 👉 “We’ll help you find the right beans with this simple quiz”
- Make decisions reversible. Money-back guarantees are not common in the coffee industry, but they’re not unheard of in the greater F&B world. Since expectations around coffee are so diverse, however, I suggest doing this only for customers whom you personally help identify a specific coffee.
- Sell a sampler, or first-time offer. Allow first-time customers to buy a small sampler of your core offerings at a discount. This gives hesitant customers a path to purchasing that’s less risky, and gives them more assurance they’ll find a bean they like.
- Create negative loss aversion. Demonstrate to customers what they lose by *not* buying your coffee.
- Example: Another day of drinking so-so coffee they don’t really love (just don’t use the “life’s too short for bad coffee” cliche!).
Most coffee lovers are not eager to up and change their existing habits, routines, and coffee beans. And that’s not a bad thing — these established morning routines help keep your existing customers loyal.
Don’t run away from the challenge. Run toward it.
Hey 👋 I'm Garrett Oden
Freelance Coffee Marketer
I'm a coffee industry native who works with coffee brands around the world to create and execute captivating marketing strategies.
I interviewed Jeremy Teff about his process for designing captivating coffee packaging and branding, and how to stand out in a competitive market.
The coffee writing and content creation rules I always follow to build content that’s interesting, unique, and converting.
Idea theft is everywhere in coffee marketing. Every good idea will get copied. Here’s what to do about it.