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April 06, 2007


johnmoore (from Brand Autopsy)

John, I hear ya on how access leads to excess which can undermine a brand's success. (Please excuse the nifty rhyming.) Has Peet's really reached that point? Starbucks? Yes. Caribou? No. Peets? I think not.

Help us to understand more of your thinking here. Beyond being a public company and opening stores in new markets, how has Peet's become just another coffee shop? What must Peet's do to get big AND stay small?

Mark R. LePage, AIA

Scarcity vs. expansion? No doubt expansion will lead to higher profits.

The only companies that succeed by limiting access are companies built around exclusive products, such as rare wines or custom jewlery.

While being scarce may build brand loyalty in the short term, for a commodity product like coffee it also creates an inherent limit to growth. Without growth (i.e. Starbucks), most businesses will eventually stagnate and die.

Scarcity may be a great way to succeed as a startup, or to build a legend as Peet's has done. At some point, growth will need to occur and scarcity must become...well...scarce.

christopher carfi

have heard this referred to as the "you can't leave home again" paradox. IOW, when ubiquity sets in, it's like you never left home, no matter where you go on the planet...


All good points. I don't think there is a simple answer. I think the answer has something to do with being able to be relevant to every customer. And, that's impossible.


never been to petes coffee (I live in the UK) but I hear what your saying. I would assume that going to Petes isn't just about the coffee (can it really taste that much better than any other..?), so why didn't Pete find other things or services to sell to those same customers in that same venue, which appeal to that same sense of belonging and expand that way?


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