I say that I am not a “chain guy.” When deciding on a restaurant I will try to choose a local restaurant over Chili’s or Applebee’s. Admittedly, I do slip and find myself in a Jimmy John’s or even the occasional Cracker Barrel for breakfast, because well, their awesomeness trumps. (They are also brands comfortable in their own skin, but that’s a topic for another day).
When it comes to coffee shops, I am especially local. I don’t have an anti-Starbucks mentality. In fact, I respect them as a company, but I try to go out of my way to find local coffee shops because I like the atmosphere.
Then there is Dutch Bros. Everything there is to love about coffee shops, they do the opposite, which is fascinating as a marketer.
They break all the rules and I am attracted to it like a bad boy to a water balloon.
And no, I’m not being paid for this. In fact, I am actually paying them $1.50 + tip daily.
How Does Dutch Bros. Break the Marketing Rules?
It is Loud. Typical coffee shops are a place of peace, newspaper-reading quiet and library-like conversations. Dutch Bros. thumps. The sound track makes me envious. It’s a mix of trendy, hip-hop, rock and even classic Fleetwood Mac and ELO.
They Are Young. No one seems to be older than 25. Yes, they are millennials and they treat me like one of them.
There is No Uniform. The employees dress like the skate park hasn’t opened yet vs. a corporate “look.”
They Hustle. When the drive-through line gets four cars deep, it can be off-putting. That is, until someone pops out the back door and runs, yes, runs, to my car to get my order. What other company literally has its employees run to meet you? This isn’t an isolated incident. They do it every time.
They Are Friendly. Most coffee shops are friendly. Somehow they out-friendly everyone. I even watch how they interact with each other in what seems like a 6’x3′ space and they genuinely seem to enjoy each other’s company.
They Price Their Coffee Low. A small, black coffee is $1.50. It might be cheaper at McDonalds, but the same brand experience isn’t at McDonalds.
It is Drive-Through Only. Most of us envision a coffee shop in earth tone colors and a comfortable, warm setting that is designed to get you to stay. Drive-through isn’t new but Dutch Bros., but they are wired to get you to leave. Quickly.
Focus on Holland When we think about coffee countries, we usually think places Brazil or Columbia or even Parisian street cafes. But, Holland? Speed skating yes, coffee not as much.
What started out as a simple daily fix for coffee has turned into a great lesson on disruption and that not all marketing rules are meant to be followed.
P.S. This morning (10/27/14) they gave me a free coffee. I am quite sure that guy hadn’t read this blog yet!