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Top 12 Effective Strategies to Grow your Cafe Business Like Starbucks

For some people, a cup of coffee is all they need to kickstart their day on an energetic note. Jonathan Swift once said, “Coffee makes us severe, grave, and philosophical.” That’s a saying perhaps thousands of people will agree to. This includes Singaporeans, who love the beverage because it brings people together.

While Singapore may be known for its multicultural vibe and delectable cuisine, the coffee market in the lion city is super impressive, to say the least. According to recent statistics, Singapore’s revenue from its coffee segment is USD 1.81 billion, and it is expected to grow by 6.24 percent annually between 2022 and 2025. Also, by 2025, 93 percent of consumer spending and 39 percent of consumption in Singapore’s coffee segment will be out-of-home consumption in restaurants and bars.

A glimpse of history

To give you a peek into history, the coffee culture in Singapore finds its roots in the maritime trade relations that the island country has with the rest of the world. Singapore is, in fact, a free port and trade hub in Southeast Asia, and merchants and travelers from across the globe have influenced its coffee culture for many years now.

Singapore was first exposed to coffee when the Chinese opened the first kopitiams in the 19th century. To note, Kopi translates to coffee in Malay, and tiam translates to shop in Fujianese and Hokkein. These establishments catered to the demands of European immigrants who loved the kick of caffeine in the beverage. They still exist in the country as an alternative to coffee shop chains. Roasted coffee here is brewed as a thick and concentrated beverage. It served as a base for other drinks, but there are plenty of ways it can be served.

Embarking on a journey toward growth

If you wish to tap into the immense potential of Singapore’s coffee market, then opening a café would be a great idea. Perhaps you wish to fulfill your dream of making it the next Starbucks. Founded in 1971, Starbucks has undoubtedly become the model for an excellent coffee shop business thanks to its robust brand image, customer-focused marketing strategies, and welcoming storefronts.

For many people, Starbucks is the name that pops into their minds whenever they think of coffee and meeting with friends, family, and colleagues. That’s how the brand leveraged the power of marketing to entrench its name deeply in the minds of its target audience for close to five decades.

It’s possible to even for your café to reach the spot that Starbucks has. It all starts with strategic and creative thinking coupled with consistent effort. If you are clueless about how to go about it, then you should check out some strategies in this blog to grow your café business. Read on to know them.

#1 Define the customer persona

The first step to growing your café business is to know the target audience of your café. You can open the doors of your café to everyone in town, but that would rarely serve your purpose of sustained growth of your café business.

You may come across people who would visit your café for a trip and not make a purchase. But you would want to call in someone who would order something and soak in the experience of your café.

Ideally, you can target individuals, mid-to-high income groups, and office goers that are located in the vicinity of your café. Define the persona of your customers based on research and analysis. The physical location of your café is a huge factor in the success of your business because convenience and ease are what people look for.

Conduct in-depth research on the target demographic located near your café. Try finding out their likes and dislikes, lifestyle, income, and other psychographic factors that define their decisions. The more clarity you have on your customer persona, the more strategic and specific your marketing strategy will be.

#2 Creating a lifestyle brand

Once you have your fingers on the pulse of your customers by understanding their persona, your next step should be to develop the brand of your café business. One reason why Starbucks has such a strong presence in the coffee segment across the globe is its branding approach. The company focused on creating not just an appealing and comfortable coffee shop, but a brand that people find a connection with.

You should create a lifestyle brand that appeals to your target audience and reflects their values. A lifestyle brand is essentially a brand that seeks to embody the aspirations, values, attitudes, interests, and opinions of a target audience group or a culture for the purpose of marketing.

When you turn your café business into a lifestyle brand, you attempt to guide, inspire, and motivate your target audience to make your offerings a way of life for them. Such an approach makes your café a part of people’s lifestyles and touches them on an emotional level. Your customers wish to experience something and when you build a lifestyle brand, you will be able to create it for them.

#3 Spend on the renovation

People look for vibrance and energy in a coffee shop. Your café should be a place that people love to visit, not only for your delectable concoctions but also for the vibe you create.

A lively and bright place is all that people want after a long day’s work to enjoy some snacks and a cup of coffee. Anything that turns their mood off can make them walk towards the exit door—something that can harm your business’ revenue and reputation.

The key to success here is to increase the visual appeal of your cafe. You can do so by shelling out some money to fix up the interiors of your café. Re-evaluate the inner décor of your café and look for scopes to make improvements.

Try to make the interior of your café as cozy and comfy as possible. Modernity blended with simplicity can work wonders for your café business. Murals, paintings, posters, photographs, and paints can completely give your café a makeover, making the interior more aesthetic and visually rich.

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#4 Built a team that can deliver the consistency

A successful coffee shop cannot be created by a single barista. It takes a team to build a strong café brand, which results from consistency in delivering excellent customer service. You can consider Starbucks as the epitome of consistency, despite having diverse store locations and equally diverse teams.

No matter where you visit Starbucks, you get pretty much the same fine service. Whether it’s their coffee or their culinary creations, they have maintained the uniformity of an excellence-driven, customer-focused brand.

Believe it or not, the staff you hire for your café can either make or break your business. So, you need to build a team that knows the value of providing high-quality coffee and food consistently. Whatever you offer as sides should complement the drink and satiate the taste buds of your customers.

If required, invest in training your staff so that they become powerful employee branding advocates for your café. Train them in suggestive selling, which can also prove effective and profitable in pushing forward any new offerings of your café.

#5 Curate "surprises" to widen your customer range

People love pleasant surprises, especially when they least expect them. If your café is the one that surprises them, then you can really stand out. The café business is quite competitive. You will have to offer something out of the box to outperform your competitors.

Infusing novelty into your café’s offerings can come as a pleasant surprise to your customers, filling them with delight. A coffee shop is certainly known exclusively for the quality of coffee it offers, but novelty-seeking customers wish for more.

A great way to tickle the fancy of your customers is to include seasonal drinks in your café’s menu. When you do so, you can expand your customer range because it would draw in people for a new experience.

The goal is to take customers out of their mundane life and exceed their expectations. Such surprises delight customers and get them to talk about your café in their social circle—a ready way to get your café’s brand out there before everyone.

#6 Extend your ordering channel

Convenience is something modern-day customers look out for in their daily lives. From remote work to online shopping to home deliveries, anything that people do today is super convenient and easy. So why shouldn’t your café provide that too?

Start with the cashier, which in traditional coffee shops, has always handled the POS system. But creating more convenience for your on-the-go customers will require you to go beyond it. Many things in life for most people happen at the tab of a button on their smartphone. Now is the digital age and you need to embrace it completely.

Digital ordering has become a reality in several retail outlets, including coffee shops in Singapore. You will find a plethora of digital ordering platforms that independent coffee shops can leverage to create a seamless customer experience.

Whether it’s making payments, ordering via mobile, handling membership data, or conducting loyalty programs, these platforms are designed to cater to customers who wish to grab and go. You can definitely foster the digital growth of your cafe.

#7 Boast your cafe's membership

Since its inception, Starbucks has always been the go-to destination for people because it’s a community space where they can connect with each other. It always fostered a connection to the community and focused on driving membership through exceptional customer service.

For taking your café to great heights, you need to turn your customers into brand advocates by building a sense of community. Customers who show loyalty to your brand can actually be powerful marketing agents for your café. They are the ones who value what you offer and perhaps would want others to experience it too.

Membership is a crucial strategy because it amplifies the image of your café brand and brings it under the spotlight. Your brand gets more exposure when people talk about it—whether in person or on social media.

There are many ways to run loyalty programs to engage with your customers. The objective is to build a base of repeat customers who can advocate for your café brand. It earns you the trust of the local community. Your cafe becomes a beloved destination to relax, work, and catch up with people.

#8 Find the niche customer group

As the owner of a café business, you cannot be the jack of all trades and master of none. You may be a generalist, doing everything decently. But, at the same time, it’s also important to be a specialist, someone who does one thing perfectly well.

The cafes in your vicinity are surely your competitors, but you cannot follow the herd. You will have to be different. Be mindful about where you spend your time, money, and energy because they can be diverted towards more profitable pursuits.

This is where niche marketing becomes important for a café business. You have to find a group of people—your niche—in your larger target market who are likely to spend more on your offerings.

For example, you can offer premium coffee to target customers who are doctors, lawyers, or IT professionals. These are customers who have the disposable income to go for a premium offering. Coupling it with excellent customer service and loyalty rewards will definitely boost the fame of your café and expand its customer base.

#9 Offer pre-order options

Thanks to the emergence of digital technologies like laptops, mobile phones, and tablets, the way people order coffee and food is changing.

Now, people can use different ways of ordering conveniently, especially when they wish to grab and go. The website of Starbucks has a dedicated page that allows people to place their orders, pay ahead of time, and pick up their orders.

Pre-order options are truly an amazing way to increase the convenience factor, both for your customers and your café. You can do away with a traditional in-store POS system and offer digital ways to make payments in advance. This is especially true when the order is large and would require time to prepare.

There are numerous mobile applications that help coffee shops to provide pre-order options and loyalty rewards to their customers. With the help of such applications, your customers can save a valuable amount of time, which otherwise would have been spent standing in line at your store.

#10 Maintain a steady supply of ingredients

A café can provide high-quality coffee only when the concoctions have the right ingredients. Starbucks’ ability to maintain consistent quality across all its outlets comes from the ingredients they source to make different varieties of coffee.

A lot of ingredients go into making a fine cup of roasted coffee. Coffee beans, fresh milk, raw sugar, and even packaging have a huge impact on the quality of the coffee a café offers. Any shortage of any of these ingredients can have a negative impact on your café, rendering it unable to offer the experience that people expect.

So, it’s extremely important for café businesses to work with the right suppliers. Suppliers that promise quality are dime a dozen, but how many are actually able to deliver on that promise? That’s a crucial point to note while looking for vendors.

Ideally, you should work with suppliers who are reliable and prompt. They should understand your café business and take quality assurance very seriously. The supplier’s business model should fit your business model and there should be a seamless supply chain in place so that you have your ingredients ready always.

#11 Manage your ingredient costing

You also have to factor in the cost because that’s ultimately what’s going to dictate your pricing strategy. Generally, the price should always be cost plus a profit margin. For setting a profitable price, the cost factor should be low.

You may come up with an appealing storefront and a great menu. But your customers will most likely drop into the next café if your offerings are unaffordable. Like most other types of F&B establishments, the profit margin of coffee shops can be quite tight. So, you need to craft strategies to keep your ingredient cost low.

If you are working with an ingredient supplier that’s draining your financial resources, then perhaps you should re-evaluate your choice. You can cut down the ingredient cost by working with local suppliers or by working out a discount.

There are ways to even reuse certain ingredients in dishes or prolong their shelf life. Equipping yourself with such knowledge can help you cut down your ingredient cost and reduce your ordering frequency. When your cost is low, you can set a profitable price that would give you an edge over your competitors.

#12 Have expansion plans from the beginning

Starbucks may have been a single outlet once upon a time, but the founders shared a vision of a bigger brand. Over the course of time, their consistent effort and perseverance turned Starbucks into a global coffee brand with outlets across several countries.

Now put yourself in the shoes of Starbucks’ founders. Where do you see your café business in the next ten years? What is the growth trajectory of your café? How can its name cross geographical boundaries? These are some questions you need to answer right during the inception of your café business.

Unlike other types of F&B establishments, a café business caters to the way of life of people. It’s a lifestyle brand that reflects the thoughts and opinions of customers. One way to make your café a part of people’s lifestyles is to become accessible to them wherever they are.

Planning multi-outlet expansions right from the beginning give you a roadmap for the future. Once your customer gets used to your café brand, they will habitually visit you if your outlets are nearby. As such, it’s a vision that can reap great rewards when it materializes.


The aforementioned points are some really effective strategies to grow your café business. Always remember that Starbucks wasn’t created in a day. It took years of effort to bring the brand where it is today. Plan for the future and take the first step now. A series of strategic steps taken over time will definitely take your café business ahead on the growth curve.

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