Costa Coffee's growth is down to "reassuringly proud" strategy

Costa's has had 44 quarters of growth
Costa's has had 44 quarters of growth

The coffee chain's double-digit growth and massive expansion plans show that Costa's blend of location, authenticity and reassurance is leading the sector, writes Jenny Ashmore, consultant at OxfordSM, and former Mars global marketing capability officer.

I let out a little cheer for marketing this morning. Costa Coffee’s parent company, Whitbread, announced double-digit growth in both revenue and profit, with Costa growing revenue at 24% and profit at 29%.

This is the brand’s 44th quarter of growth, selling us coffee with a premiumisation of hundreds of times the instant coffee of my youth; fuelling the UK market where one in five of us went into a coffee shop everyday last year.

Continuing to grow at this high rate, in a market where money is tight and selling on the high street is difficult, is a major challenge.

For me, the best aspect of this is that Costa has designed and delivered its marketing exactly as we were taught in our first years as assistant brand managers. This is the case study: done simply and consistently, so beautifully that the "Costa Coffee moment" is a high point of the day. 

Firstly, Costa has established an outstanding physical presence. When you say "I want a cup of coffee", you want a great coffee and also a break that refreshes you mentally and physically for the next part of the day. So you don’t want to have to walk far – and the Costa Coffee network means that there is one there, just when you need that little pick-me-up.

There is a comforting authenticity in the history of the two Italian brothers: Bruno and Sergio Costa, who came to London in the 1970s and founded Costa coffee, selling their slow-roast Mocha Italia blend. This "friendly neighbour" feel is reflected not only in the in-store experience, but also in the proposition.

Costa brought us Italian coffees and new names and more challenging flavours, but made us feel like it was ours through tailoring the tastes and formats to things that we love as a nation. So, just as Chicken Tikka Masala is most commonly named as the British food of choice, we turn to Costa coffee as the shop of choice.

Finally, we were always taught that you need to communicate in a competitive environment. Costa has been consistently proud in reassuring us that we are making the best choice when we sip their coffee. They did the market research to prove and acclaim that they are "Britain’s favourite coffee" and then "the coffee drinker’s favourite". They were not afraid to be competitive and comparative with other coffee shops – making a stand for the coffee experience that they believe in.

The growth in British coffee shops is predicted to continue apace, with the market size for 2017 forecast as £8bn. Costa is not resting on its laurels, but has set itself the goal of doubling sales to £2bn by 2018.

While this sector will surely be attractive to many new entrants and challengers, Costa’s careful and caring attention to the brand and the whole brand experience has to leave the company well placed to take a lead in this ongoing growth.


Before commenting please read our rules for commenting on articles.

If you see a comment you find offensive, you can flag it as inappropriate. In the top right-hand corner of an individual comment, you will see 'flag as inappropriate'. Clicking this prompts us to review the comment. For further information see our rules for commenting on articles.

comments powered by Disqus
Brand Republic Jobs

subscribe now


Lynx tells men not to leave love to fate
HBO captures awkwardness of watching sex scenes with parents
Primark to open first US stores with Boston chosen as flagship location
Marketing spend on the up but a reality check is needed before celebrating
Top 10 ads of the week: Jackpotjoy and BT Broadband fend off Kevin Bacon
Lidl beats Tesco to 10m Facebook fans
Center Parcs ad banned for encouraging parents to take kids out of school
Coca-Cola, Cadbury and Amazon named top brands for targeting youth market
Leaked document shows Nokia to be rebranded as Microsoft Mobile
Nike lays-off hardware staff in move that casts doubt on future of FuelBand
Greenpeace says save the bees or humans will die
What brands need to know about changes to VAT and online downloads in 2015
Jimmy Savile victims urged to claim compensation in new ad campaign
UKIP launches biggest  ad campaign and stirs up 'racist' accusations
Apple boss Tim Cook provides voiceover on ad touting firm's renewed green commitments
John Lewis walks consumers through its history to celebrate 150 years of business
Waitrose boosts content strategy with 'Weekend Kitchen with Waitrose' C4 tie-up
Hottest virals: Cute puppies star in Pedigree ad, plus Idris Elba and Fruyo
Amnesty International burns candles to illuminate new hope
Toyota achieves the impossible by calming angry Roman drivers
Tom of Finland's 'homoerotic' drawings made into stamps
YouTube reveals user habits to appeal to 'older' marketers
Ex-M&S marketing chief Steven Sharp consulting at WPP
Wolff Olins reveals new CEO after Apple poaches Karl Heiselman
Glasgow offers £30,000 prize to best digital idea for 2014 Commonwealth Games
Google's revenues surge but shares drop as it grapples with transition to mobile
Facebook beats Twitter to most 'marketing friendly' social media site crown, says DMA
Fableists believe children like Finn should be outdoors enjoying life
Homebase, Baileys and Camelot join the line-up at Media360
MasterCard renews Rugby World Cup sponsorship to push cashless message