Friday, May 22, 2009

Jumping On The Bandwagon

Written by Bob Phibbs, the Retail Doctor

Circus workers were skilled at attracting the public with the razzmatazz of a parade through town, complete with highly decorated bandwagons. In the late 19th century, politicians picked up on this form of attracting a crowd and began using bandwagons when campaigning for office.

Now it means a way of joining something, often in an opportunist way, when that movement is seen to have become successful.

McDonald’s has launched a massive ad campaign McDonald’s (did you hear they made a deal with HULU to block all advertising for eight hours so they could exclusively run a McCafe promotion?) Very broad and deep reach. At only $1.79, I know they are selling a lot of iced coffee.

What’s interesting has been a lot in the specialty coffee community taking the cynical side and mocking them. Like this from comments appearing after a related story in the Los Angeles Times, “Starbucks stumbled in part when they drifted far enough away from serving only excellent coffee that they alienated (with seemingly interminable waits whilst the 12 year old in front of you gets her decaf lo-fat frappe chai chino vente) the educated.”

Some independents use a cold-brew toddy and some brew fresh espresso shots over ice. It will be important for independent coffee houses to train their crews how to differentiate what they offer.

I’ve suggested owners hold taste tests to compare Starbucks and McCafe so their crew could speak about it intelligently. Again, someone who likes McCafe’s coffee should not be seen as a threat if they came to YOUR shop to try yours – you need to win them over not piss them off.

For coffeehouses, I say fish while the fish are biting so get banners, window clings and POP showing their iced coffee drinks.

On the opposite side of jumping on a bandwagon, retailers over the past several years have been on only one bandwagon – discount. At some point you have to look at whether there is any differentiating factor or opportunity left.

For retailers, what opportunities can you can get on the bandwagon for in your market?

Best-selling author and speaker Bob Phibbs has helped thousands of businesses compete by using his sales approach and not discounting. His Book, You Can Compete: Double Sales Without Discounting is the backbone of scores of businesses’ training programs because it teaches his methods for making a business successful. Read his blog updated throughout the week at Download more free tips at his website or follow him on Twitter at

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