Is this the beginning of an easyCoffee revolution?

Many of you will have experienced the joys of the no-frills, low-cost airline, easyJet. Established in 1995, the publicly listed company traded its way successfully to the FTSE 100 Index and still operates globally today in more than 30 countries. The company’s founder, Sir Stelios Haji-Loannou, was knighted in 2006 for his services to entrepreneurship after having established the easyGroup in 1998. As a privately owned company, easyGroup specialises in brand licensing and is responsible for controlling the group of companies under the “easy” umbrella brand, including easyProperty, easyPizza and many more. Recently, the company has added a new brand to its ranks: easyCoffee.

With stores already established in Central London near Leicester Square, easyCoffee pledges to rival the likes of Costa with its £1 regular sized coffee. Offering incredible value for money and service with a smile, could we be seeing an easyCoffee revolution in the very near future? With 200 branches set to open across the UK in the coming months, an easyCoffee revolution seems entirely possible. The “easy” brand strategy focuses on delivering customer value to the masses with the aim of taking on large competitors to offer a unique, simple alternative to the big brands currently dominating the market. easyCoffee’s rapid expansion plans have already demonstrated that cheap and cheerful can be a recipe for success. The real question is, if easyCoffee can offer us hot drinks for £1, why do we accept the extortionate prices that rival coffee chains offer us? Particularly as students, why do we pay nearly £3 for a coffee that in most cases costs less than 25p to make?!

With this in mind, I took a quick trip in to Leeds City Centre to compare coffee prices and interview some students who were busily at work in coffee shops around town. Since easyCoffee claims to rival both Starbucks and Costa, this was a strong start for my comparisons. At £2.30 for a regular black coffee, Costa is still 15p cheaper than its competitor, Starbucks, which charges £2.45 for an Americano and a whopping £2.70 for a Latte. Surprisingly, Café Nero was one of the cheapest brands around, charging £2.10 for a takeaway coffee, a good 20p cheaper than rival chains. Whilst in Café Nero, I bumped in to a group of University of Leeds students who had set up a study space. Christina Ramsay, a second-year BA International Development student, was kind enough to answer a few questions for the Gryphon Business section. When asked why she pays such high prices for hot drinks, she convincingly replied that the extra benefits outweigh the costs, particularly if she’s studying: “a couple of cups of coffee entitles you to a booth for the day, there’s a relaxed atmosphere with chilled music, plus the added bonus of free Wi-Fi and electricity to charge your laptops”. After showing her a picture of an easyCoffee store with its bright white and blazing orange colour scheme, she suggested that although the prices are competitive, the atmosphere didn’t seem as inviting…

Although not representative of the whole student population, Christina made a good point: whilst easyCoffee prices rival those of high-street competitors, would they be able to provide the same chilled atmosphere which attracts customers, given that their inner-city flagship stores prioritise speedy take-away service? Whether or not this is the beginning of an easyCoffee revolution remains to be seen, but it is still good to see a new competitor giving the big coffee brands a run for their money!

By Julia Contstable

(Photo from: Manchester Evening news)

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