While our brand deep dives typically showcase some of the world’s most recognizable brands and pull out the most important lessons that brand managers and marketers can take from them — that’s not the case for everyone. We recognize that, for many of you out there, your brand may still be in its infancy and the kinds of campaigns that a brand like IKEA, Bumble, or Roblox can put together may not be something you’re focusing on just yet.
So instead, we want to take a look at a brand that’s much younger, still unproven but striving to mark out its slice of a growing sector. We’ll highlight what it’s doing right, what it could improve upon, and how brand tracking tools like Latana’s could help it develop its brand along the right path.
The brand in question is specialty coffee supplier Javy. It's an interesting case study because, as an eCommerce D2C brand, it’s part of a growing movement of businesses that have used the internet and online marketplaces to circumvent the traditional gatekeepers — you know, the ones that decide which brands get placed on shelves and which don’t. And in doing so, they’ve shaken up their category. For example, consider brands like Just Spices, Dollar Shave Club, and Huel, to name just a few.
Secondly, they’re more than just a brand with a relatively novel business model — they have a unique take on a traditional product, too. In this case, it’s coffee.
So without further ado, let’s dive in.
Taking The Grind Out Of Coffee
Javy was founded in late 2020 by entrepreneurs Justin Kemperman and Brandon Monaghan. Kemperman, who’s only in his early 20s — a rare example of a Gen Z founder — had been interested in managing his own business since he was a teenager. When he was young, he’d ask his dad to “drop him off at a nearby second-hand store” where he’d use the Amazon app on his phone to scan the value of the items in the board game aisle, looking for opportunities to make a profit.
His first venture, Shine Armor, an auto detailing and car care product line, was self-funded with just $60 thousand — and reached revenues of $10 million per year by the time Kemperman sold and exited the business in 2021. With his eyes set firmly on his next challenge, Kemperman teamed up with Brandon Monaghan to take on the world of coffee. In his own words: “We wanted to be in a category that’s really impactful; products that people use frequently and continue to buy.”
But in order to shoulder their way into the coffee industry, they would need something to set them apart from the existing offerings on the market. They’d need a novel idea that might just change the industry — an idea like coffee concentrate.
This new approach to coffee was positioned as an alternative to instant coffee brands and a more suitable way for consumers to prepare iced coffee. Interestingly, iced coffee has actually grown to rival its warmer progenitor in terms of popularity — especially in the US and particularly during the summer months.
We’ll go into more detail about their unique brand proposition later, but first, let’s take a quick tour of the coffee and specialty coffee category to introduce the challenges and opportunities this brand faces.
How The Coffee Category Shapes Up Today
It should come as no surprise to anyone who doesn’t feel human until they’ve had their morning cup o’ joe that the coffee industry is worth billions. It’s “among the most consumed beverages worldwide”, with approximately 42.6 liters consumed per person, per year — of which 12.6 liters are roast coffee and 30 liters are instant coffee.
Revenue in this sector amounted to approximately $433 billion in 2022 alone, with the US being the world’s largest market.
Zooming in on instant coffee reveals that it’s an extremely valuable sub-industry in its own right, comprising $116.5 billion of the wider-cofee industry’s total revenue — with its largest market being Japan.
But it goes without saying that it's a crowded industry with a lot of players vying for consumers’ attention. Starbucks, Dunkin’, Caffe Nero, Costa, and Tim Hortons rule the roost when it comes to coffeehouses — though many have their own at-home products, too, which are sold through retailers both online and offline.
Lavazza, Taylors of Harrogate, and Illy are a few of the big players that command a strong presence providing their own roasted beans and ground coffee products — both to small businesses as well as individual consumers.
Coffee pods represent their own vibrant market with brands like the George Clooney-fronted Nespresso — while the instant coffee industry has a host of offerings, with Nescafe, Douwe Egberts, and Folgers being notable names.
That’s not to mention the range of brands offering novel approaches to coffee — coffee bags (in the same vain as tea bags) and, of course, coffee concentrate. That brings us back to Javy.
All of this just goes to say that people really love coffee — making it a market with plenty of opportunities. But, in order to make an impact, new brands face an uphill struggle differentiating themselves from competitors.
What’smore, coffee drinkers are typically loyal to the brand that works for them. A 2017 survey found that 92% of consumers either mostly or always bought the same brand of coffee — with only 8% saying that they regularly shopped around. This makes sense — morning coffee is often a ritual, made in a specific way unique to every consumer, likely a cog in a larger morning routine.
However, that’s not to say that the industry is impenetrable for new brands. Another 2017 survey found that the prime reason consumers switched coffee brands was to “try something new” — with 39% of consumers choosing this option. 33% said they were swayed by deals on other brands, while 25% said that recommendations from friends or acquaintances could sway them to give other brands a try.
So while there’s no denying that conquering the coffee market is a herculean task, if Javy can catch consumers’ attention, entice shoppers with offers, and build up buzz through word of mouth — then maybe, just maybe, they can grow their brand to rival established offerings.
But by relying on the power of their brand and using a brand tracking platform like Latana, they could give themselves the edge.
What Does Javy Get Right?
The most important function that Javy’s brand needs to serve at this moment in its development is to break through customers’ unfamiliarity with the product by offering a strong brand proposition.
Essentially, Javy needs to give loyal coffee drinkers a good reason to abandon their traditional brew and opt for concentrate instead. As such, its brand needs to represent the products’ benefits and package them up in a memorable way that resonates with consumers.
This is a strategy that other brands with novel products have executed with great success — most notably Huel. Their offering, a meal replacement product aimed at fitness enthusiasts and time-poor consumers, had the potential to be offputting or alienating. But it caught on with a strong brand proposition — with messaging across campaigns, on its website, and through its customer journey that educates consumers on the product’s benefits.
Javy also leads with this strong brand proposition. Outlining what its product is and overcoming unfamiliarity by highlighting why this novel approach to drinking coffee trumps the established offerings on the market.
Their website’s main page clarifies further that Javy is “Faster than instant coffee, easier than a k-cup, and tastier than your favorite coffee shop.” Javy’s brand messaging also touches on a few key points that often elicit a strong response from consumers — namely that their product is sustainable and environmentally friendly in comparison to their competitors. But, we’ll come back to this point later.
Like Huel, Javy also understands that unfamiliar products need to establish trust with customers, so reviews and media mentions are given pride of place on the brand’s website — while supporting content such as recipes and other coffee-related articles give customers a place to understand how the product might fit into their lifestyle.
A quick look on social media also reveals that Javy is using similar content based on recipes, tips, and tricks to build a community online around their product, in much the same way that Huel did.
How Could Javy’s Brand Be Improved?
Though Javy has built on a strong foundation, there are a few areas that could be improved upon and that provide interesting lessons for other brands looking to grow. While it’s nailed the proposition of its main product offering and wrapped its selling points up in a bold and vibrant way, it could do more to build trust and grow stronger bonds with consumers.
A key improvement could be to improve its transparency around the coffee it uses and back up its claims that it presents a sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative to the competition.
According to research, coffee drinkers aged 25-49 “are influenced by ethical certificates showing producers have complied with sustainable criteria monitored by such organizations as the Rainforest Alliance.” The websites of industry leaders such as Lavazza and Illy, or even smaller brands like Cafe Direct, all feature dedicated pages that detail the brand’s relationship to growers and farmers and their commitments to sustainability. This creates a level of trust, especially when done in partnership with 3rd party organizations like the Fair Trade Foundation.
Consumers are quick to catch on when a brand is attempting to greenwash their business — and with no accreditation whatsoever to back up their claims, Javy lacks a level of transparency that many of its competitors command. With the topic being one that really sways purchasing decisions, it could be a potential roadblock to future growth if it isn’t fixed.
How Javy Could Use Brand Tracking To Grow Its Brand
For new brands that are still in the process of establishing their brand identity and introducing their offering to consumers, the most important KPIs of brand performance that they need to track are brand awareness and brand understanding.
Further growth, especially at the expense of established industry leaders, could require a deeper understanding of brand preference and the types of associations consumers hold about your offering — so you can gauge whether these align with your brand’s core values and selling points.
But this information is only useful once you have an established presence with your target audience.
So, at this stage in its development, Javy could really benefit from using brand monitoring software to track which consumers recognize its brand (brand awareness) and whether they correctly understand that it is a coffee brand (brand understanding).
With this information, Javy could track how well its campaigns are working and how effectively they’re introducing its novel approach to coffee to consumers — zooming in on specific target audiences to see with which groups its messages have resonated the most.
New brands often face an uphill struggle when it comes to breaking through the noise and introducing their offering to consumers. Just getting your target audience to acknowledge and remember your brand can sometimes seem like an impossible task!
While brands with novel offerings like Javy’s concentrate coffee can use their uniqueness to their advantage, it comes with a significant drawback — while they might have won consumers’ attention, they need to do more to win their trust.
In this regard, Javy still has a way to go in order to rival more established coffee brands, especially those that cater to consumers’ increasing preference for sustainable and ethically sourced products. However, while a lack of transparency means consumers may not be quite sure “who Javy is” and what this brand stands for — its vibrant, punchy brand messaging does a great job of establishing “what Javy is” and how it fits into consumers’ lives.