business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports on the growth strategy being employed by Caribou Coffee, the second-ranked coffee retailer in the US. Of course, when number one is Starbucks, being number two means you have to do a lot more than just try harder. Starbucks has some 7,000 stores; Caribou has 250.

Caribou CEO Michael Coles tells the paper that he sees this as an opportunity as well as a challenge. "There's no industry in America I know of where the difference between the category leader and the No. 2 is so great," he says.

Among the tactics used by Caribou: homey, lodge-like stores that contrast with Starbucks more European feel, a wider variety of specialty drinks, and a commitment to franchising and other methods to increase the company's physical presence.

Coles says that he is cognizant of the fact that his company sells a product that nobody needs and that costs more per pound "than the most expensive steak," and therefore it must offer both a quality experience and a quality product.
KC's View:
"A quality experience and a quality product." Man, does that sound like a mantra, or what?

Caribou is dealing with its own version of Wal-Mart, and it isn’t whining about how big the competition is. Rather, it is working to provide a compelling in-store experience and a product selection that surpasses the market leader..

It's an attitude worth adopting. Worth nurturing. And worth cherishing, because that's what makes unique retail unique.