The Art of Deception

Café Britt is known to many as the first company to begin roasting coffee in the same country of origin. The company is in the middle of the coffee supply chain, as they only roast coffee. This means they receive the beans from upstream suppliers, and sell to downstream suppliers, as well as directly to customers. The brand was named after a common Scandanavian name, “Britt,” in order to pay homage to a region of the world in which populations consume large amounts of coffee. Café Britt holds their brand to high standards, priding themselves in both their sustainability efforts and their loyal relationships built with customers.

While Café Britt appears to emulate the idea that the brand isn’t only about coffee, but also a genuine care for their consumers, I find the whole idea to be a hoax. Café Britt doesn’t measure their success in customer attachment, but solely profits and expansion. The brand is derived from deception, and I don’t agree with the strategy. The gimmick begins with the sourcing of actors as tour guides instead of certified, knowledgeable experts. Their over-the-top act serves only as a distraction, creating an overwhelming and chaotic experience full of jokes and stories used to persuade customers into buying products as memorandums. The tour is purely entertainment, and lacks major educational key points and clarification.

I believe Café Britt is cunning. The company is heavily involved in the travel retail division, meaning the company opens stores in airports to appeal to tired travelers desperately in need of some caffeine, while simultaneously drawing people in using “sense of place,” or the showcasing of culture in the given area, making one feel welcome, comfortable, and curious enough to explore the store. The brand is smart, training designers to create environments with the goal of manipulating customer’s emotions. This field of sales allows for the promotion of the brand internationally, opening up the brand to a larger audience. Café Britt further contributes to their success regarding sourcing through their multilocal approach over multinational. For example, in the Britt Store in Columbia, coffee grown in Columbia is used rather than coffee grown in Costa Rica. This appeals to Columbian peoples, and additionally creates the false notion that Britt is a Columbian company, allowing for an unwarranted increase in Columbian support.

Additionally, Café Britt sources coffee beans from only small, organic farms. This not only creates an image of a caring, environmentally-aware company, but also expands the audience of consumers to those of a lower-class who are more likely to support a brand that supports small, local farmers similar to themselves. Café Britt builds upon this image by recycling their special “protective” packaging through the sourcing of a group of skilled women who turn the plastic packing into fashion items, such as purses.

The brand is definitely smart; I’ll give them that. However, it seems to me that the company has gotten caught up in their recent success, as the presentation we received today was focused entirely on expansion, and how the brand is working to make more and more profit. I give the brand major props for the dedication they’ve invested in creating such a complex and ridiculous façade. But at the end of the day, I found their overselling to be off-putting, with the opposite effect in which it was supposed to have. As a tourist, I felt the target on my head. I could blatantly feel how focused they were on ensuring I left with bags full of product, instead of feeling as though a genuine family-owned brand actually cared about my cultural experience, level of comfort, and enjoyment of the coffee. In my eyes, that type of deception doesn’t nourish healthy, loyal producer-consumer relationships, but rather feeds greedy producers’ drive to take advantage of curious consumers.

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