Defining Your Customer: Matching the Experience to your Custom

Header_Tip2This month we will be focusing on Tip 2 in our “10 Tip to Jumpstart your Café “ series.
You are creating a new café with a wonderful menu, drinks, and atmosphere. And, your goal is to attract a high level of customer traffic on a consistent basis. Before you go too far with your project, research and define your customer. Who is your ideal customer? Knowing your ideal customer and creating a personality or “avatar” to design your café experience around, is a key element to café success.
How do you define this unique customer? And after you define this customer, be ready to adjust your concept to attract this customer?
Whether you are opening a new café or re-inventing an existing café, knowing your customer is important in providing products, service, and atmosphere that they will find unique and desirable. If you are opening a new café and do not have a location selected, look for demographics that closely match your menu and vision. For instance, if your mission and goals are to create a remarkable cup of coffee that your customer will pay above the average price/cup, you will need to locate a demographic population – with enough density to support a café with remarkable coffee. And, are there other cafes or competition in the area already doing this and is there still a customer demand? If you are finding that the markets that you want to locate your café with remarkable coffee is not in demand, you either consider new markets or you consider adjusting your expectations and price/cup. This is also true of the menu and atmosphere.
If you are re-inventing your café, re-look at your existing customers and look at ways to attract new customers in the market. Learn about these “new” customers through visits to other cafes, as well as, local demographic research.
How do you research demographic and economic trends? The best way is a combination of sources. After you research and summarize all of these sources, you will see patterns and trends emerge. Graphing the trends works well too. Data that you will want to gather is generally located in Economic Profiles for the City or County. This includes:
•    Population and Employment Growth Trends – the historical increase and projections are a great way to estimate density and upside for your location
•    Major employers – maybe you would like to a major employer if you are looking for a more busy morning or lunch location.
•    Major residential areas – depending on your hours, maybe you would like to be located near residential areas if you are looking for more a busy morning or evening location)
•    Economic forecast for your region – increase in jobs overall, etc.
•    Average annual wages – when comparing to other regions and cafes in these regions, this can be a god way to gage your menu pricing.
•    Demographic information such as number of households, age, diversity, and education.
•    Commercial Real Estate Vacancy Trends – the higher vacancy areas are generally the areas will little to no growth. This is not true of “up and coming” areas – which will demand reliance on forecasting.
•    Personal research of competition – visit other cafes and summarize the demographic from these cafes including noting if there are more singles, families, or groups visiting the café. Visit during different times of the day and week.
•    Hobbies – what activities and hobbies are most common in the various areas?
•    Sophisticated, Trendy, Conventional, etc. – What type of furniture and apparel stores are in the areas. These retailers are typically the leading trends that restaurants will follow. Look at residential design as well for these indicators. This could assist you in integrating these trends into your atmosphere design.
•    Loyalty programs – are other cafes or retailers providing loyalty programs?
•    Advertising – what type of advertising do customers prefer in your region?
Your café may have the most remarkable cup of coffee, glass of wine, or pot of tea. It may also have a wonderful atmosphere and great service. But, if you do not match up these wonderful qualities with your ideal customer, your café may fall short and not be a success.
Having a customer that returns consistently and tells others about your café is what will make you a success in your region or city. Designing your experience to attract this customer is the Business of Experience.
3_13 7-A
Melanie Corey-Ferrini is the founder of Dynamikspace ( She has created the “10 Tips to Jumpstart your Café” workbooks and speaks at industry conferences on how to create a successful café.

Suggested Reading