For most people, coffee is the ultimate uniter. If you love it, you don’t ask its political persuasion, you just drink it before you’re willing to have any conversations with anyone, much less a heated political argument.
But, in recent years, one big international brand has built a reputation for being incessantly and fundamentally political. Starbucks weighs in on everything from gay marriage to Christmas to illegal immigration … and they get major league headlines every time. Whether people love or love to hate Starbucks for their political activity, there’s no doubt said activity is a great brand boon for the company. Every boycott is free advertising that motivates their base to buy more coffee. You can bet, if you see a headline condemning Starbucks for a public political stance, there are a bunch of people somewhere trading five bucks for a cup of coffee.
So, it was only a matter of time before someone on the right end of the political spectrum decided to see if the same math worked for them. The current top candidate? Black Rifle Coffee Company.
This brand is young – only two years old – and veteran-owned, an upstart David going after the ultimate Goliath, but CEO Evan Hafer isn’t about to back down. In an interview with FOX Business, Hafer let everyone know exactly why his company was taking a political stand:
“I think that it’s really important for everybody to know that if someone is going to come out in basically a press release defining themselves as progressive, there are definitive conservative options for coffee…”
That might seem a superfluous statement, in any other context. Is there a more “first world” problem than having to go to another coffee shop because you don’t agree with the politics of the one closer to your home?
Still, despite the dubious nature of the political statement, there are a good many Americans who are happy just to have an option. They want to vote with their wallet, and Black Rifle gives them that option. This is a lesson for any brand out there looking for an edge in developing market share and brand identity. No one is expecting Black Rifle to rival Starbucks anytime soon, but Hafer was able to look out at the customer version of low hanging fruit and go out and grab it. People wanted something, and he didn’t over-analyze it. He just delivered.
And that straightforward approach is paying off. Hafer told Fox his company plans to expand from their current base of 24 retail locations to more than 600 locations in the next six years. Staffing those locations is another concern, one that Hafer is already turning into a public relations win. He cited the growing number – currently more than 2.5 million – post 9/11 veterans out in the world, and this cohort faces a higher unemployment rate than their age-counterpart peers.
Hafer says he looks at that as an important social issue his business can help solve, and, in doing so, show his customer base he means business.