Marketing Miracles

When dealing with people, let us remember we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bustling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity.
—Dale Carnegie

In today’s marketing world we can be confident and certain of two important facts:

1. The days when marketers or those who develop products could simply tell the consumer what they would have are over. While Steve Jobs in his own world might have thought that he could predict what a person needed in life, before that individuals realized it, the reality of today’s hyper-connected marketplace means that consumers are in the driver seat and want to be included in the conversation of buying, using, and sharing.

2. While coffee is a masterful product that is becoming ever more approachable, it is a disservice to not reflect on the emotional and physical power of the benefits that such a tiny green bean can unleash upon an individual when transformed for consumption. And these personal benefits are not just what coffee insiders think, it is from the heart and mind of the consumer.

Over the years and from many conversations with coffee drinkers of all profiles, a mindmap of how Americans think rationally and emotionally about coffee can be drawn. Based on the point-of-view of the consumer, this blueprint literally provides the means of looking at the met and unmet needs of the individual, how existing and new products can be best positioned, how business executives see the importance of workplace benefits such as coffee, and where the industry can uncover new opportunities for growth.


The image shown here provides the positive pathways of how consumers think of coffee from product attributes to personal values. These are the stories of how people see and talk about the relevancy of coffee in their lives. And these stories reveal for us the power of both what is known and what is possible. From these various orientations we can garner several important learnings and opportunities.

There are two macro stories for coffee: one addressing value and socialization, and the other is addressing health and performance. Think of the socialization aspect as the “we” and the performance as the “me.”

Both of these ultimately lead to the personal value of accomplishment and self-esteem. That may sound like a long way from a cup in the morning to deep psychology, but in fact if you think about the story of what coffee can do for you and how it makes you feel, the journey is not that far. This is a product that elicits deep feelings both socially and individually.

So how does a mindmap like this work in marketing? Consider these few examples and then think of how you could fit your offering in what consumers are looking for now or into the future.

• The tagline, “The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup,” is a classic expression that combines the elements of smell/aroma to waking up to getting started. And in many advertisements, the Folgers ads have astutely linked this to stronger family relationships and a sense of belonging that is visually shown.

• Single-serve continues to explode in popularity and plays directly to coffee drinkers wanting a variety of choices, to satisfying a craving for a particular type of drink, to supporting the confidence that one has that they made the right choice, and ultimately leading to personal pride and self-esteem.

• The National Coffee Association (NCA) and the Specialty Coffee Association of America (SCAA) continue to publish the positive physiological impact that coffee consumption has on humans, both green and roasted! Coffee not only produces an emotive response, but a physical one as well. Consumers view this in terms of feeling physically better and an improved mental state. In this case, improved health leads directly to improved personal performance tied back to coffee.

• Although the idea of third wave coffee is just taking hold, the premise is that coffee should not be looked upon as a commodity, but rather as an experience. Indeed, if those in the industry want to understand how to seed a co-creative, collaborative, and customer-centric movement founded on higher order community impact, look no further than these values. Chipotle did it with the Crow Foods video story.

But the big opportunity, as one can see from the image, is a desire for less stress in life and a feeling of rejuvenation. This acts as a “bridge” between the social and the performance orientations, which is a space that not many coffee brands or products tend to play today. If there is marketing “white space” in the coffee category, this is it – for now. In every society, personal values do not tend to rapidly change. Whereas products and services come and go and are highly influenced by short-term events, the fundamental human desire for pride, happiness, success, security, self-esteem, and accomplishment is constant. Coffee yesterday, today, and tomorrow is a story of human values. Lets tell the stories.

Mike Dabadie is the founder of Heart+Mind Strategies, LLC, a research consultancy that continues to pioneer the use of personal-values insights and marketing. He can be reached at

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