We have a tradition in our family. Every year we head to the city of Bath to visit the Christmas market. Before we head into the throngs of people looking for last-minute presents my wife and I always grab a much-needed coffee. Anyone who has been to Bath knows there is no shortage of coffee shops, from the chains to the independents and everyone else with enough space for a coffee machine.
We passed several coffee shops, each one efficient, with a good price and hardly a queue, until we came across what looked like the perfect coffee shop for us. I stepped up to the counter to order and was informed, with a kindly smile, it would be a fifteen-minute wait for my coffee. My caffeine tank was on zero and my six-year-old son was fidgety with Christmas excitement. I could have exited, turning left or right to find an alternative and perfectly satisfactory coffee in my hand in less than two minutes. But I choose to wait the fifteen minutes, which got me wondering; why was I happy to wait so long?
After all, coffee, as a commodity, is roughly the same from one barista to another. Sure they may roast it in a particular way, but I hadn’t tasted this particular baristas coffee, so I couldn’t say that the coffee was any better or worse than the barista on the next corner. But I was willing to wait fifteen minutes. Then the answer came to me. The commodity (ground coffee) is the same as the competition but the product (how it served) was very different.
When I speak of product I don’t mean the cup of coffee, I’m referring to the overall experience. A freshly painted entrance that leads to a friendly social space. The reassuringly laid back ambience filled with the aroma of fresh coffee, good lighting, and a barista methodically working through his list. That slow reassuring care the barista applied to every single serving created an oasis of calm on a hectic pre-Christmas morning.
The total experience, therefore, formed the product and I viewed it very differently from the commodity on offer. I have heard from many sources that experience will outstrip price as a reason to choose a supplier. So ‘product’, the overall experience, was what I valued enough to be willing to wait a lot longer for it.
So what’s the experience like buying from your business? Is it much more than the value of the commodity?
It took a slow serving coffee shop for me to really appreciate the difference between commodity and product and how much we are all willing to give, in both money and time, in return for a better experience. How can you make your product more valuable than the sum of its parts? Let’s continue the conversation and see how HarveyDavid can help.