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Scientists, Explorers, Perfectionists: Oh My!
By: Amanda Markell
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We have seen many companies today helping introduce small brands to consumers. Whether it’s by providing a platform to sell or a space for their voice, companies like Etsy, The Grommet, Beer Advocate, and more have changed the market in significant ways. But there are some companies who are taking it a step further to actually create new demand for these small brands by educating the consumer.

One company paving the path for this concept is Angels' Cup. Their newest product, Black Box, is marketed as a fit for "scientists, explorers and perfectionists," but I would argue Angels' Cup is actually in many cases creating coffee scientists, explorers, and perfectionists from amateur coffee appreciators. This creation of elite coffee demand is a wonderful side effect for small coffee roasters like Gorilla Coffee, Gimme Coffee, Conduit Coffee Roasters, Cuvee Coffee, and more who are partnering with Angels' Cup. In other words, the brand is not just connecting consumers with product, but evolving consumers for product.

Let me expand on how this evolution happens. With Angels' Cup, after becoming a member, you receive a box containing four unmarked, mysterious samples of coffee weekly, biweekly or monthly. The correlating mobile app then walks you through describing the coffee's color, taste, aroma, flavor, and finally enjoyment. Never before had I considered the differences between body, complexity, and aftertaste, or thought that ash, leather, and steak could describe a coffee. But now I do! And who knows? In a few weeks, I could be sipping a Verona at Starbucks and think, "Oh, this complexity is so light."

After you score the brew, the app shows you how a "brewmaster" has scored the same coffee. The comparison helps you understand if your senses were off or right on the mark. After completing the exercise, you learn who roasted the coffee and are given the chance to purchase a full-sized bag from that roaster. This is an important step not to be overlooked; it’s when Angels' Cup connects all the dots from roaster to consumer.

There are examples of this concept amongst other industries, but I have yet to find an example of a brand that takes the full experience from trying to learning to buying in such a robust way. For instance, the Wine Simplified app lets you scan wine bottle labels to find out more about the wine you are drinking, helps you with pairings, and teaches you pronunciations. Similarly, with Next Glass, you scan the beer you are drinking for more information and can also rate your personal enjoyment. With time, the app develops a profile for you and can recommend beers that you will love.

Outside of the mobile app realm, the increasing popularity of craft brewery tours and festivals accomplishes a similar goal. After going to enough brew festivals and tours, consumers are bound think a lot more about beers' appearance, smell, taste, and mouthfeel. They will also become much more familiar with the smaller brewers and where to find them.

I will leave with this quote from an article by Business Insider that eloquently describes the importance of education:
There’s a big difference between marketing to your customer and educating him/her. A lot of companies believe they’re educating their consumers because they’re elaborating upon the features, advantages, and benefits of their products. What’s relevant to the consumer, however, isn’t what the company values about its own product, but what the product can do to solve a problem for him/her.
Education continues to increase in importance to the world of marketing and I do not see that changing. Have you seen any great examples of brands educating the consumer? Tell us about them @beneaththebrand

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About the Author
Amanda Markell is a marketer in the Greater Boston Area with a passion for branding, new media, and customer insights. 
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