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Fancy a brew? How to give your customers what they really want

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So this week’s burning question: are we going to get an Indian summer or not? Indulge me, my international TMP faithful, I’m British and that means it’s all about the weather, politely formed queues and drinking tea – although that last trend might be changing quicker than Cara Delevingne at London Fashion Week.

Not only have UK sales of traditional tea bags fallen by 6% since 2010, but sales of coffee are steadily creeping upwards. It’s all to do with the ever-changing beverages market – and it’s a battle both sides are determined to win.

Whilst the tea market has set its sights on capturing health-conscious foodies and branched out into fruit and herbal teas, for their coffee counterparts it’s all about racking up the caffeine content. Sales of instant granules might have fallen by 3% last year, but sales of its upmarket cousin the filter coffee have continued to grow and were up 3.5% in 2014. FYI, choosing filter over instant means around 100mg more caffeine – go steady on the hard stuff kids.

Given that only 8% of people in their early 20’s are drinking more than one cup of instant coffee a day, it’s a trend that looks set to continue, with predictions that the instant coffee market will lose another £82m by 2020.

Hold on, there’s a new kid in town.

Remember a time when the chic accessory for oh-so-cool dinner parties was the cafetière? No longer, my friends. We might not yet be space age enough to live in eco pods hovering around the stratosphere, but coffee pods are one trend we’ve started to embrace.

Despite the fact that my Nan told me they’d never take off, one-in-five consumers now owns a coffee pod machine, primarily thanks to Nespresso losing their patent in 2013. They’re convenient, good quality and considering the price of your average Starbucks (sorry Mr Schultz), come out as being great value for committed caffeine fiends. It’s why they’re eating up an increasing share of the filter coffee market – 40% in 2014 compared to 30% just twelve months previously.

So what does all this say for my business?

I knew you’d ask that. If you think about it, what’s happening to tea and coffee shouldn’t surprise any of us. Both markets show us that consumers are looking for high quality products that represent good value. It’s exactly why Aldi recorded an 18% increase in year-on-year sales growth for the 12 weeks to the 16th August – and why the only other store to record double figures was Lidl.

Quality and value. The trick is to understand what those words mean to your market. There’s a reason that when I founded The Monachie Project I chose the unique focus of the emotional consumer experience – get that right and it works. Every time.

You don’t even have to feel passionately about what you’re selling – as long as you realise what sparks passion in your customers. What are you really selling them? Cut price savings that mean they can spend a fortnight in Mauritius? Or coffee of such quality that it’ll have the Jones’ snooping round their bin bags to discover their secret? To understand your market is really what you’re looking for, you need to go in at ground level and see the world from your customer’s eyes. What compels them to walk into your store or pick up the phone to ask for your services?

If you try and figure this out yourself, it’s all too easy to think you understand when in fact your own preconceptions are obscuring the view. Some people can do it and see OK results – and then sometimes it can have disastrous consequences. Yes Samy and Amy, I’m talking about you. But the really smart guys know that to see a real return for their efforts, they need a fresh pair of eyes. Somebody entirely neutral. Yep, that’s where we come in.

My customer research consultants come from all walks of life so that they can fully reflect your market. We find the hidden agendas playing out in and around your business. Every successful entrepreneur has to have firm plans and clear direction – but it’s these very things that can stop you seeing the world from your customers’ point of view. So let us be your eyes and ears and find out what your market’s really looking for. Think of us as being a shot of cold brew coffee for your bottom line. Promise it’s not as painful as it sounds.

Want to see better returns for your efforts? Get in touch to take your business to the next level.

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