Caribou Coffee's No. 2: So It Tries Harder

When your biggest competitor has 12,000 restaurants, and you have 432, it pays to be creative in the marketing department.

That's why Minneapolis-based Caribou Coffee Company, the country's second largest coffee chain behind Starbucks, has a variety of marketing ploys in place. Among them: a granola bar deal with General Mills, a brand-new dark-roast coffee, and a holiday promotion that begins in early November.

This month, Caribou launched two flavors of soft-chewy granola bars-- Chocolate Mocha and Vanilla Latte--in convenience, supermarket, club and drug stores around the country. The bars, made by General Mills, retail for $2.99 each in most locations. The bars are also sold in Caribou Coffee stores.

The rollout was supported with ads on AOL, E!, iVillage and similar Web sites, and with a traditional print campaign in Martha Stewart Living and other lifestyle magazines, plus weeklies such as People and US Weekly.

In September, Caribou launched a new dark-roast coffee blend called Obsidian. In-store marketing efforts such as brochures, posters and sampling helped launch the new coffee, which carried the tagline "Dark Roast Will Never Be The Same - 09.18.06" (that date is the date of the launch). A national USA Today ad in mid-October reinforced the launch.



In early November, Caribou starts its holiday program, which includes seasonal drinks (the Fa La Latte and the Ho Ho Mint Mocha among them), gourmet food offerings and gift sets feature coffee, tea, cocoa and merchandise. In-store and out-of-store elements, plus a national "'Bou Bus" tour, will support the holiday campaign.

All initiatives will help Caribou reach its core market: men and women with college educations, 40% of whom have an income of more than $85,000, live in two-to-three person households, and range in age from mid-30s to mid-50s.

"Customers tell us our coffee is much smoother and better-tasting than our competitors'," said Kathy Hollenhorst, senior vice president of marketing for Caribou.

Next story loading loading..