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Branded coffee chains remain popular despite public empathy with independents

It came as no great surprise that research from Key Note found consumers were intending to visit branded coffee chains like Starbucks less often in the future as a result of the recession and that the majority of respondents would more likely select an independent in the future. By Glynn Davis, City editor

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Branded coffee chains remain popular despite public empathy with independents

They are clearly bored with the same old brand names selling the same products in the same environments and are probably bumping into the same faces each time they cross the threshold. Te
dious in the extreme I'd suggest.

But hold on a minute, this is exactly why people choose to visit these places. When it comes to coffee bars, familiarity does not breed contempt but rather induces great comfort. The fact that only one in five respondents said they would choose a brand rather than an independent does not mean they will actually follow through on this. It is more a case of them quite liking the idea of frequenting the independents.

At the end of the day most consumers choose familiarity over uncertainty and continue to visit the brands while (in surveys) extolling the virtues of the independent operators. It is a similar story with research into the buying of Fairtrade and environmentally friendly foods - in surveys most consumers say they buy such goods but the reality is that many of them do not.

My view on branded coffee chains is in-line with that of Allegra Strategies that continues to find the prospects for the branded chains reasonably healthy. And even if they are having a hard time in the current tough market then it is likely that many independents who do not deliver consistently high product quality and good service will be finding life even harder - regardless of what responses the public gives in surveys.

glynnd@theretailbulletin.com

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