Let’s talk about Dutch Bros moving its way south and how it’s winning over new customers one cup of coffee at a time.
As someone who grew up in the Midwest with brands like Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, I have always been fascinated by the iconic West Coast staple, Dutch Bros. Its fun, energetic branding has captivated West Coast natives. But as it moves south, Dutch Bros is learning to adapt to its new audience.
The Dutch Bros story started in 1992 in Grants Pass, Oregon. The company began as a tiny espresso pushcart that grew into a West Coast favorite. The grab-and-go coffee shop has expanded far beyond the West Coast, recently opening its first Alabama location.
“The new location in Decatur will be followed by three more north Alabama locations in the following months,” said a Tennessee Valley Living article. New locations outside of the West can be risky and pose new challenges, but Dutch Bros has done nothing but impress everyone with its strategies.
Dutch Bros focuses on community connections. Its public relations team has done a great job at displaying this commitment through a variety of initiatives and local partnerships. The chain immediately began partnering with local companies when it moved into its new neighborhoods.
A Dutch Bros location in Middle Tennessee participated in the “Bucks for Kids” day, donating $1 from every drink sold that day to Make-A-Wish Middle Tennessee. This fundraiser showed its new customers that the company cares about them, and it’s not there to just sell coffee. “Establishing a local presence in your target market can help build trust and credibility with local customers,” said a Maven article.
Coffee on a new ground
Other smart strategies we’ve seen Dutch Bros implement have been the placement of its stores and the campaigns that came with each shop’s opening.
In 2020, Dutch Bros opened its first Texas location. The store can be found in the city of College Station, home of the Texas A&M Aggies. On the day of its grand opening, the Dutch Bros shop offered $3 drinks for customers.
Dutch Bros strategically set its first Texas location in the same neighborhood as a college campus. This high-traffic area brought an exciting and new audience for Dutch Bros. College students could always go for a budget-friendly drink, so the company is definitely targeting the right audience.
This placement strategy seems to be a trend for the brand as it moves into new regions. As mentioned previously, Dutch Bros has begun expanding into Alabama, including Huntsville, just blocks away from The University of Alabama in Huntsville campus.
These are just a few examples of how Dutch Bros has been successful at fostering new relationships during expansion.
The brand itself speaks to this young and excited audience. “The company targets young consumers, who likely don’t have loyalty to incumbent brands yet, enticing them with products like Iced Tiger’s Blood Lemonade or Iced Electric Berry Rebel — drinks with caffeine, colorful names and equally flashy looks,” a 2022 article in The Motley Fool noted.
Taking it to go
We can learn a lot from Dutch Bros and how it has taken on its southern expansion. It’s clear the marketing and PR teams knew exactly where they were placing new locations and curated strategic campaigns that successfully spoke to a younger audience.
“As companies become increasingly global, understanding how to engage customers in new geographies is critical for marketing leaders,” said Marie Hatter, CMO at Keysight Technologies.
I’ll be curious to see where Dutch Bros is headed next. Maybe one day we’ll see the brand overseas.
Jillian Middleton is a junior advertising student at The University of Alabama. She is from Maineville, Ohio and currently serves as the director of graphic design for Capstone Agency and the alumni, marketing and public relations coordinator for Kesem. She enjoys traveling and cheering on the Alabama Crimson Tide in Bryant-Denny Stadium! If you’re interested in contacting Jillian, you can find her on LinkedIn.