Costa: There is no room for complacency

MWL 2012: Market leading brands cannot afford to be complacent, or they risk losing out to challenger brands, warns Costa top marketer Caroline Harris.


Costa, which now operates more stores in the UK than rivals Starbucks and Nero together, claims that one of the reasons it was able to overtake Starbucks in the UK was that its rival got “complacent” with its position.

Speaking at Marketing Week Live! Today (28 June), Costa Express marketing director Caroline Harris cited this, paired with Costa’s aggressive “challenger” brand approach to marketing for its success in overtaking Starbucks.

She said: “For a few years, Costa acted like a challenger and for a few years we were riding in the wake of Starbucks. Now that we’re market leader we don’t want to become complacent, because you could argue that’s what Starbucks did.”

Harris also said that the tipping point for Costa was finding the insight that in blind coffee taste tastes, seven out of 10 coffee drinkers prefer its coffee to rivals’, and making that the core of its communication strategy.

“It means that we could communicate something we’d known internally for a long time. It was a pivotal turning point for Costa and now we’ve overtaken Starbucks and we continue to widen that gap,” she says.

Costa, Marketing Week’s Brand of the Year 2011, reported a 24% rise in sales and a 5.5% rise in sales at stores open for more than a year. Its profits also increased 38% in the last year.



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