November 4, 2011
In my opinion, there are two top key decisions that Joe faces in regards to his situation. The first key decision is determining the basis for which Joe will model his coffee shop after. With supporting evidence from research, he must determine which indicators on taste/experience/price/etc. will ultimately establish his positioning in the competitive market. This is an important decision because it narrows the scope of his coffee shop’s situation and will aid him in taking the necessary steps towards determining key factors for success.
The second key decision that Joe encounters is whether or not he should enlist the help of a marketing research consultant. This is an important decision because it can be significantly related to the resulting outcome of his coffee shop. According to The Essentials of Marketing Research, “Business success is determined directly by the quality of decisions made by key personnel” (Zikmund & Babin, pg. 43). If Joe’s personal abilities as a marketing researcher in this situation are limited, they will be reflected in the quality of his decision-making.
Based on the content of the coffee taste studies cited in the case, I would argue that they are actually overwhelmingly irrelevant to Joe’s situation. Although the studies compare the tastes amongst four of the largest coffee competitors in the U.S., only one of them (Starbucks) can be defined as a similar business to what Joe desires to open. A much more relevant study would be a comparison between Starbucks and other coffee shop competitors such as Caribou Coffee, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, and Seattle Coffee Company.
The first major flaw in the coffee taste studies that Joe should consider is the validity of their results. While the first two studies directly compared the tastes between 4 different competitive coffee brands, the results...