Can celebrity endorsements boost your coffee brand?

October 3, 2014 by

Celebrity coffee brandsAs I have said before on this site, branding your coffee can be a bit of a challenge.

After all, whatever the coffee you are selling, it looks pretty much identical to the coffee your competitors are selling. It’s a small, brown bean.

In other words, coffee is a commodity.

Yes, a very small percentage of coffee drinkers can taste the difference between a coffee from Kenya and a coffee from Ethiopia. But most can’t. They just like a good cup of Joe.

To overcome the “commodity” challenge, roasters and marketers try to differentiate their coffee in a variety of ways.

One favorite is to differentiate by the country of origin. For the more sophisticated drinker you can differentiate by regions within a country, or even by individual coffee farms.

Other approaches include the design of packaging, the telling of stories, focusing on organic or Fair Trade coffees, and so on.

But the latest differentiator being tried is celebrity endorsement.

For some time now movie director David Lynch has been selling David Lynch Signature Cup Organic Coffee. I imagine this sells well to his fans and a few other movie enthusiasts, but I can’t see it ever becoming a favorite on the shelves of my local supermarket.

Rohan Marley is leveraging the brand of his father, Bob Marley, and selling blends with names taken from his father’s lyrics, like Buffalo Soldier dark Roast.

Hugh Jackman of X-Men fame sells Laughing Man coffee and donates 50% of his profits to charity. Leonardo DiCaprio did something similar with his Lyon brand.

The band KISS opened a branded coffee shop in Myrtle Beach, and then closed it.

Ralph Lauren, the aging fashion mogul, has recently launched Ralph’s Coffee.

Even Martha Stewart is getting into the coffee game with her Ulivjava line.

All this begs the question: Is hitching a celebrity to your coffee brand an effective way to promote it?

I think the answer is probably no.

What we are seeing here is celebrities leveraging their own fame to sell coffee. We are not seeing coffee leveraging celebrities.

I hope you get the distinction.

To put it another way, if you are a celebrity with zillions of followers on Twitter and Facebook, you can probably persuade some of those people to buy your branded coffee.

But if you are a coffee company looking for a new way to differentiate your coffees, getting into bed with a celebrity probably won’t help you much.

So how can you differentiate your coffee brand?

The future of coffee branding, I believe, is about attaching your coffee to a unique experience through storytelling.

More about that in a future post. (Although I have already written about branding and storytelling here.)

NOTE: If you are struggling with your own coffee branding, feel free to contact me. I love working on stuff like this.

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