How to beat out Starbucks - Three steps to set yourself apart from your competitor

You know that, location is key when having a specialty cafe. But, we all know, you’re not alone out there. A lot of generic coffee places, and, yes, all the Starbucks and other chain stores are out there, too.

We all know the approach of Starbucks of selling an experience rather than just coffee – people are paying for this experience, not the coffee and hence are willing to spend $5 for a Latte.

As independent specialty cafe owners with a Starbucks across the street, you’re constantly asking yourself, how to get a slice of that cake as well. How can you make it possible for your cafe to attract customers in such a competitive market?


Well, let me show you three steps that will beat out those Starbucks stores and pull customers through your doors.


1.    Know your competitor

Sounds easy, right? But there’s more to this than you might think of. Do you know who the customers of your competitors are? Do you know the benefits your competitor is offering their customers? Are they better than you? What does your competitor stand for?

Research your competitors inside and out, from their social media messages to their staff. Go over to that store and make yourself familiar with their approach, their customers, and their baristas. And, don’t be shy, ask them.

You only know what can set yourself apart, when you really know your competitor and what’s already been done. By researching how your competitors are marketing themselves, you’ll be better able to position your own coffee business as different.


2.    Find something to be known for

Don’t try to please everyone. You can only set yourself apart, if you have something to be known for, that your competitor doesn’t offer.

Is it your home made sandwiches? Is it some other specialty food or beverage? Or your interest for arts and design that expresses in your unique interior design? Your specialty coffee Know How from your trips to some origin countries? Maybe you’re great at teaching people about specialty coffee and can offer trainings.

Whatever your value proposition is, it has to be something that your competitor can’t claim.

One thing, though, that will definitely let you stick out, is YOU, because who is more unique than your own personality.


3.    Connect with your customer

If you’ve ordered a coffee beverage at a Starbucks of your choice before, you know what happens when entering the door: You’re standing in line, you’re ordering, you’ll receive your coffee. Your To go cup might have your own name written on it by one of the staff members, but there’s actually no other personal contact than that, right?

Now think of your own cafe and how you treat your own customers. A little chat here and there, some suggestions about new additions to the menu, you name it.

By making a connection with your customers, you’ll build loyal regulars that will love to come again AND tell their friends, too.


It still isn’t easy having a Starbucks down the street – people know and will always appreciate what they get when going there. Especially if you’re new to the local coffee market, you may find it hard to get attention among all the generic cafes. But with these three steps, you’re able to find something to stand for that your competitor can’t.


What’s your approach to set yourself apart from your competitor? Write in the comments below!