A Internet-Free Coffee Shop: Time Warp or Niche Marketing Strategy

I recently found myself in what felt like a time warp: I’d gone to a coffee shop to get some work done, only to discover that there was no wi-fi available. I’d heard that such places exist, of course, but it had been years since I’d last found myself inside one! As I sat with my laptop tethered to my phone to access the resources I needed to finish my to-do list for the day, I wondered with some frustration: how can a business like this survive?

A Niche Marketing Strategy in Progress?
As I watched my fellow patrons, however, I noticed a few things. A group of retirees chatted about their grandchildren while a young family enjoying hot chocolate, and the staff both greeted each customer as they entered and sent them off with a heartfelt goodbye as they left. This level of social interaction felt frozen in time, and I considered that perhaps, in addition to their made-fresh-in-house, gluten-free menu and the local artists’ work hung on the walls, the service they offered might simply be different than what I’d come in expecting. Perhaps the question was not how they survived, but how they’d recognized that there was a niche for a place like this, where a disconnect from the constantly-connected modern world was a benefit, not a risk.

It takes very careful consideration and information gathering to recognize when the business you sought to create might fill a different niche than the one you originally planned. This was not a place that was behind the times, given their menu and decor, but they had made a conscious choice to leave this one thing behind, standing out from every other coffee shop of its time.

Smart Marketing Move?
I consider this a bold, yet risky move considering that, had I known there would not be wi-fi available, I would likely have chosen to work somewhere else. In fact, I would have almost certainly found another place, along with the many other coffee shop campers who use them as their second offices. However, this tech-free establishment was clearly thriving and had a dedicated, engaged clientele. It wasn’t so long ago, in fact, that most people saw a coffee shop as a place to gather to hear the latest news and gossip from their communities and the world around them. The evolution of the local coffee shop has seen a shift in purpose, but the one where I found myself that day had very effectively recalled that former idea.

Moral of the Marketing Story
This doesn’t necessarily mean that the answer to every marketing problem is to go low-tech. The local cafe where I pondered these questions hadn’t shut their business away from the world, as they were located on one of the busiest streets in my city. Whether they simply never signed up for the internet or made a conscious decision to stay no-tech, they have found a niche that the other coffee shops have ignored. By going low-tech, the coffee shop brought back a time when people connected without cables over coffee, enjoyed homemade treats and local art and genuine hellos and goodbyes were a staple of customer service. Obviously people appreciate a place that disconnects them from the world and this coffee shop has found them and discovered a niche market of dedicated customers.

If you aren’t sure if you are hitting your target audience or not even sure who your target audience is, be sure to contact us – we can help you connect – cables or not. ?

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