In June of this year, a Starbucks Frappuccino coffee truck hits the streets of Los Angeles, CA, and sets the stage for a new revolution in the coffee cart business. During the two-week tour, the colorful truck gives the people of LA even more opportunities to score their caffeinated sugar rush, as if the 100 or so brick and mortar storefronts in the area were not enough. Perhaps there is more to this stunt than meets the eye. Read on to understand the secrets Starbucks spilled with its foray into the mobile coffee business, and then get in on this trend.
It seems unlikely that Starbucks has an urgent need to expand its customer base in the LA area. Nevertheless, the Starbucks Frappuccino truck is rolling around and serving customers. A closer look at the operation reveals at least three reasons why this technicolored truck is a smart move for Starbucks.
- Market Research– The coffee truck only sells Frappuccinos. What’s more is that the truck only sells a select variety of flavors and has plans to debut brand new Frappuccino flavors during its time on the road. This allows customers a fun way to experience new products while Starbucks studies the data.
- Immersive Social Media– Once a customer samples a new Starbucks creation, they can instantly tell the world of social media all about it. Offering the coffee giant even more insight into their customer base. In addition, interacting with a brand on social media creates a sense of exclusivity, a feeling that modern consumers covet which, when felt, increases the likelihood that they will continue as customers.
- Nostalgia– The colorful coffee truck is reminiscent of the ice cream man who drives around in the summer to supply neighborhood kids with delicious, frozen memories of happiness. Starbucks is pulling on these heartstrings and creating an experience for its clientele.
The benefits Starbucks may reap with this marketing experiment are probably limitless. The biggest fact that their choice reveals to the modern entrepreneur is that mobile food vending, especially the mobile coffee business, is experiencing strong growth.
While a full-sized, custom-painted, brand-new vehicle is a significant investment for the modern entrepreneur, a mobile coffee business is really a very simple, viable option for people looking to go to work for themselves. Here are a few of the ups and downs of starting a mobile coffee business of your own.
Advantages of a Coffee Cart
- Built-In Customer Base- Around 80% of American adults drink coffee. That means that eight out of the ten people you see walking down the street are your potential customers.
- Low Start-Up Costs- You can design and build your coffee cart yourself, or buy a pre-packaged kit. There are also used coffee carts for sale. Either way, your initial investment is generally less than $10,000.
- Simple Operations- Making coffee is easy. The supplies are straightforward, and a business-owning barista can make their recipes as basic or complex as desired.
- Easy Adjustment- If the location you picked is deserted, move to another. If it’s raining outside, go inside. If your customers like a stronger brew in the morning than in the afternoon, change it. The point is, a coffee cart business gives you extreme flexibility.
And the Disadvantages
- Not Exempt- Even though a coffee cart is rather small, it still serves food to the public. That means that you must ensure you fully travel the channels to proper licensing and health department permitting.
- Little Space- People are cranky before they’ve had their coffee, and they tend to be picky about the exact proportions of cream and sugar, or lack thereof. A cart does not lend itself well to a self-serve area, so understand that attention to an individual customer’s preferences is of the utmost importance.
- High Volume- In order to generate decent income for its owner, a mobile coffee business must do a high volume of sales. Keep in mind that your prices must remain competitive, especially if your business may survive on the spontaneity of a customer’s spending.
Ready to Roast?
“This is probably not the last time the Starbucks truck will hit the streets, and the coffee cart business is only getting stronger.“
Here are a few tips on how to start a coffee stand to get in on this trend now.
- Scope out locations in your town. Look for heavy foot traffic with predictable rush hours. Make sure to find a few possible spots, all with great visibility.
- Do your due diligence and look into the process of starting a business in your area. Doing the right thing first saves headaches later.
- Get your coffee cart, choose your blend and turn on the burners while you smile and man your cash register.