Costa Coffee add cream to the core

With help from guest blogger, David Nichols, Head of Invention at the brandgym

Costa Coffee is giving global leader Starbucks a good run for their money, having a 15.7% share of the £1billion market, only 1% pt behind. And its nice to see how they have been focusing on the core product to drive growth. After a communication campaign selling the fact that 7/10 coffee lovers prefer Costa, they've recently launched an upgrade of the good old white coffee, called the Flat White.

Picture 1
The Flat White started in Australia and New Zealand. You pour onto an espresso steamy milk from the bottom of a jug, holding back
lighter froth to make the drink smooth and velvety in texture. It tastes like "real coffee", but is less milky than a latte, and less frothy than a cappuccino.

Here's what we like about this.

1. Grows the core business

Coffee shops have worked hard on extending beyond coffee into new areas such as sandwiches and hot food, and they have also launched all sorts of fancy flavoured coffees. The Flat White goes back to basics and growing the core coffee business. This in turn is building on the "7/10 prefer" campaign to reinforce the idea that Costa makes a better cup of coffee. This is also reflected in their tagline, "We make it better".

Picture 2
2. First to market

Although Starbucks launched the flat white in London a few weeks ahead of Costa's launch, Costa been first with a national launch throughout the UK. Reports suggest that has taken major investment, with twelve
months’ research and training of 6,000 baristas costing over £1 million.

3. Repositions the competition
By focusing on core coffee, selling superiority and launching a core product innovation like the Flat White Costa has begun to reposition the other players. Go
back into
Starbucks, and it starts to feel like they more interested in selling expensive toppings than improving the coffee

4. Drives trial and re-trial

Costa's Flat White is a good way to drive trial in a way that has a chance of creating loyalty and re-visit, in a way that price promotions or limited edition fancy coffees can't do.

In conclusion, Costs is a good example of innovating the core. This may not have the ‘wow’ factor of stretching into a totally new market. But it has the potential to really drive both brand and business growth.