2015-07-14

A Cafe Marketing Strategy

What are the main issues of the cafe "industry" in KL and how do you plan to go about overcoming them?

A Singaporean investor asked that question. This was my brief answer. TL;DR - it doesn't have to be F&B. Please note that this approach regards a very specific real estate opportunity, and should not be consumed as general advice for cafe owners. 


Let's consider the markets for

  • good customer service
  • public spaces
  • wifi
  • coffee in general
  • specialty coffee
  • food tourism "the food is that good"
  • space tourism "the space/architecture is that good"


The consumers to which these value propositions apply are different (of course, the sets overlap).


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  • food tourism "the food is that good"

This has the lowest priority. It's easier for me to deploy specialty coffee, than an entire kitchen menu. But if we capitalise in the 300-500k MYR range, then we're good to try this.

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  • specialty coffee
  • space tourism "the space/architecture is that good"

This has the next lowest priority. There are a LOT of food tourists and space tourists who basically follow hearsay, the contemporary manifestation of which is Instagram (VERY VERY IMPORTANT). There are also a few, but much more tightly knit, specialty coffee tourists who only go to the few coffee shops that deliver coffee of a certain quality. We can only address this market if we capitalise in the 190-390k MYR range, simply due to capEx requirements. (Making things look pretty, is curatable, but it's a bit easier if the space is also designed right and spruced up with a nice finish.) Good espresso machines cost money.

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  • public spaces
  • wifi Internet access
  • coffee in general

This is all I intend to focus on if we capitalise in the 150-250k MYR range. It's an infrastructure play. We want to keep costs low, be "always on," and provide the facility that 24-7 public libraries provide in more developed societies.

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  • good customer service

As discussed in the State of the Union, this is the only thing most low-budget F&B places really have as their Unique Selling Point. It's an artist management business - as long as the audience feels a personal relationship with the staff, the audience patronises the establishment. That is what most F&B owners don't bother to curate, and that is often why they fail.

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