Coffee shops are getting far and wide. More young people are responding it well by converting into business opportunity. Being an owner, a barista, a roaster and also a coffee plantation manager are some of today’s commonly found professions. When we take a closer look at this phenomenon, coffee shops are just downstream part of the entire coffee industry ecosystem which becomes the current lifestyle. The ritual of sipping coffee can not detached from the role of many exponents, ranging from coffee plantation to coffee brewing stalls.

Some initiation of public sphere in the form of community or small groups are commonly found in coffee shops. Whether the group is small or big, the discourse distribution takes place quickly and brings out a great coverage of many things into public. Nowadays, some coffee shops are defining themselves as co-working spaces; a new manifestation of today’s public sphere. It shows either as a strategy or as a new coffee-based business field. Coffee is an icon in its own land when Indonesia is seen as one of the world largest producers of coffee commodities.

In response to this, we opened a discussion with the coffee industry doers and coffee shop customers. We asked about consumer behavior and what topics would be of interest to these peers when we were going to raise the theme around brands and coffee shops. So far, we can conclude that there are two points of concern: engagement and competition.

1.    Engagement

Many of us probably associate engagement as customer engagement, which is about how customers become familiar with and loyal to a brand. It is undeniable that this has become a great achievement of a business. With the engagement development, we can measure the progress of business achievement through revenue and obtained profit increase. However, have we ever thought about business engagement? What we call by business engagement here is about how business doers and their brands figure out and become loyal to its customers.

Customers are active subjects who have their own views and idealism. In some business references, we are familiar with ‘customer insight’ term. This insight is the starting point in building business engagement; that is about building and continuously updating our understanding on customers' behaviors, views and idealism. This insight will also be the primary capital in providing services to build strong customer engagement. Engagement is a two-way mutual process between a business and its customers. Strong business engagement will determine the strength of customer engagement.

2. Competition

"If you do not give the market the story to talk about, they'll define your brand's story for you." David Brier told us. Story and competition have close skinship, because the story followed and loved by the customers of a business will determine the engagement and loyalty. Likewise, the case of buying decision. Most customers prefer to "buy" emotions rather than products. The emotion is crafted in the story delivered by the business. Then, loyalty and buying decisions are the main indicators in winning the market competition.

The story in a business is to talk about how the business is defined. In this case, we are talking about a brand development base. Every business has its own definition despite being in a large and wide-ranging and competitive marketplace. The definition of a good business will build a strong brand and the right communication strategy will trigger the effectiveness of the branding process. The definition of business presented through the story is reinforced by some basic elements such as distinctions, novelty and attributes or empirical parts that can be experienced by customers.

Through the case study of coffee shops, we can grasp an understanding how stories are formed and presented on social media channels, especially Instagram as the most widely used channel in marketing communications of coffee shops. Their stories are delivered in a variety of means such as visual, verbal and audio-visual. However, in a narrative frame, the generated communication model is categorized into several approaches, including catalog approach, documentary approach, and interactive approach. Each approach has a different impact on addressing customers’ attention.

a. Catalogue Approach

This approach generally emphasizes the introduction of products, services and sometimes the venue and atmosphere of the coffee shops. The product variant becomes a force to attract the customers’ attention, therefore the business differentiator is built through the product variant on offer.

b. Documentary Approach

Documentary approach usually prioritizes marketing communication presentations that present a continuous story. The nature of the content is more on the process of production processes or consuming processes, diary of baristas, or chronological-event content.

c. Interactive Approach

An interactive approach is more likely to present communication about interactions with customers. The generated stories usually present customer activities, reshare and repost contents that customers showcase on their social media, or capture impressions and interaction with other customers both on coffee shops and in social media.

Preparing well-developed stories (with clear distinctions, novelty, and attributes) and implementing business-friendly storytelling approach will help customers frame the right definition and bring the winning hearts of customers close together. That is one way to win a solid competition.