What makes customers prefer Coffee Bean compared to other café places like Starbucks? The answer can be found in the way customers perceive the available brands. Perception is the process by which an individual selects, organizes and interprets the information he receives from the environment.
3 Stages Of Perception
The first stage that begins the whole perception is the select process; this is attending to the object or an event in the environment with one of more of the five senses involved. This is a intrinsic cue which refer to distinct sensory qualities of the product like the appearance taste and odour. When a customer walks in to any coffee bean outlet the first stimulus would be the aroma of the coffee beans and brewing coffee, the second would be the its environment. Coffee bean ensures that each outlet has a different setting suited to the stores location and the type of customers walking in.The brightly lit environment that compliments the colour of the tables and chairs would be the second stimulus. Lastly while one is mulling over a cup of coffee from coffee bean ,the music played in the background instills the calm and peaceful mood for the customer ,this would be the last stimulus.
The second stage to perception is organize, this is categorized by matching the sensed stimulus with similar object categories in one’s memory. This stage helps one makes sense of what they observed. After tasting the drinks in coffee bean, the customer forms a memory in their head. They remember the environment, the ambience ,the taste, the music playing in the background ,the kind of service provided to them and lastly comparing them from experiences in other cafes .
The last stage would be to interpret, when customers attach a meaning to the stimulus, forming a “ruling” as to whether they like the object and what’s its value to them. After remembering the coffee bean experience the customer got, would they say they like it more compared to other cafes and would they classify coffee bean a place they would come to again to satisfy the same need or want in the future.
Factors That Shape Perception
One key point is that perception can vary widely among individuals exposed to the same reality. Each customer responds differently to the whole service experience. There are three factors that operate to shape and sometimes distort perception. These factors would eventually influence the purchasing decisions of coffee bean customers.
The first is stimulus characteristics, which combines both sensory and information content. The sensory characteristics as mention earlier involve the five senses. This is the outlook of the store, the ambience, the aroma and background noises and the taste of the products in coffee bean. This is when a customer judges if they enjoyed the whole experience and if they enjoyed the product as well. The second is the information content which is the nature of information received from the customer’s environment. This can be from the stores and marketers and opinions of their friends or family. This moves beyond the basic 5 senses towards the organization the customers are in and their interpretation.
The second factor would be Context characteristics. This has a lot to do with the setting in which the information is received. As mention earlier each customer perceive the brand or product differently. This is on the context of the social, cultural and organizational settings one is exposed to. Coffee bean receives a wide variety of customers from students to working adults and tourist. For example, a student patronizing a coffee bean outlet probably got the information from his or her fellow classmates or friend that coffee bean is a convenient place to have a cup of coffee while studying for a major test or exam. The student also may also have seen other students studying or having project meetings at a coffee bean outlet and thus this influence his/her decision to patronize one too.
The last factor would be the customers characteristics .No two people are the same, everyone functions and views things differently. Thus a factor that influences perception and purchase decisions would be an individual’s character. A customer can have personal knowledge and experience about coffee that formed a perception that coffee bean sell quality beverages and excites ones taste buds. A customer may also have a perception of the brand due to prior experience with the company or experience.
Customers generally have expectations, which are steered by their perception of the brand and product, this thus influences their purchase decisions. Coffee bean has successfully able to tailor their marketing offers so that customers are able to identify with their products. Coffee bean offers more than just the coffee, tea or dessert experience. They provide customers with the whole dining experience by selling main courses such as pasta and sandwiches. This way customers patronizing coffee bean have a perception that they have more choices then just coffee and tea. Thus customers are able to identify with the brand, and coffee bean is also able to make a noticeable between its competitors.
As we know customers perceptual process is lightning quick. Every little detail counts in changing ones perception of the company. Which is why coffee bean takes into consideration every little aspect, from the cleanliness of the store, the grooming of the staff, the design of the mugs and the layout of the whole store and deployment.
Knowing and recognizing the customers perception process, Coffee bean has successfully able to maintain a positive impression to their customers as a place not only to chill with your friends but to hold meetings have a great dinner at the same time provide quality products and a memorable experience. This always makes them the first choice in their customer’s minds.
The micro- environment consists of the company itself, customers, suppliers and competitors. The micro- environment plays a important role in influencing a customers purchasing decisions.
The first force is the company itself and the role it plays in the microenvironment. This could be deemed as the internal environment. With regards to Coffee bean and Tealeaf, all the departments and top management staff work closely together to ensure that the mission, vision and objectives of the company are met. The managers of the different outlets are always kept up to date with latest promotions and changes of store procedures. Managers in coffee bean also ensure that baristas maintain the quality standards of the store and are well groomed. The barista’s are also trained well not only on the art of coffee making but about cleanliness customer service and store procedures. With a company that is close knitted and ensures the best kind of service quality is provided, customers who patronize the outlets would be convinced that their needs are always top priority which encourages them to keep coming back.
The second force would be the supplier. Suppliers are firms and individuals that provide the resources needed by the company and its competitors to produce goods and services. They are an important link in the company’s overall customer “value delivery system. “Coffee bean has store procedures like monthly stock count and stock ordering .A good inventory management system would ensure that there is no shortage of stock. This ensures that all transactions run smoothly. Coffee bean and tealeaf builds good rapport with their suppliers to make sure all their store operations run smoothly. They also keep track with price trends of their key inputs to ensure that rising cost of supply is always monitored. This way the company maintains the good impression that customers have on them.
The third force is the customer. Coffee bean must be able to study their customer markets closely since each market has its own characteristic. Coffee bean maintains a bond with their customers. Customers are always kept up to date on latest promotions and events via the company’s Facebook page or other social networks. Feedback is always welcome on their website ,this feedback system allow coffee bean to constantly improve the quality of their service and at the same time makes the customers feel important to the company. As Coffee bean and tealeaf listen to their customers needs and wants, this is what allows them to form good relationships with their customers.
The last force would be the competitor’s .As a company that specializes in coffee and tea, coffee bean faces a wide range of competitors. Coffee bean secures a strategic advantage over competitors by positioning their offerings to be successful in the marketplace. One of Coffee bean and tealeaf’s major competitor would be Starbucks. How does coffee bean ensure a competitive advantage? Coffee bean offers extra services like delivery of cakes to go. This is for customers who may not be able to sit and enjoy their delicious savories and desserts but would like to just pick up a few on their way he home.
Coffee bean also ensures that the portion of cakes sold to customers is generally bigger and more substantial compared to their competitors. Customers are also able to order merchandise and party packs like big quantities of their favourite cakes and savories for party’s or office meetings online. This way Coffee bean builds a competitive advantage over its big competitor Starbucks by offering more valued services that meet their customers need. Customer would be able to not only get their favourite coffee bean drinks to go but will also be able to enjoy their desserts and cakes anywhere and anytime of the day.This not only creates a positive perception in their customers minds but makes the customer feel valued and appreciated.