La Colombe is offering a free Mocha Draft Latte with any purchase at Philly cafes Friday as part of the company’s first advertising campaign.
Founded in 1994, Philadelphia-based La Colombe Coffee Roasters has grown from fewer than 50 employees in 2010 to more than 700 today. Even with doubling revenue year over year for the last three years, the company knows it has tough competition.
The coffee and snack shops industry brought in $48 billion in revenue in 2018 and is projected to continue growing, according to an IBISWorld market research report. Starbucks has about 20 percent of the national market, according to the report.
La Colombe has five cafe locations in its hometown, in Fishtown, Rittenhouse Square, Independence Mall, Dilworth Park, and Bryn Mawr. Starbucks has dozens.
Kathryn O’Connor, La Colombe’s senior vice president of marketing, said her company can’t compete with Starbucks’ advertising and brand recognition, saying "they have money out the wazoo that they are going to spend.” So La Colombe will emphasize “product quality.”
“We have taken what you can get at a La Colombe cafe and put it in a can,” she said. “The Starbucks Frappuccino and Dunkin’ ready to drink [can] tastes in no way the same as what you can get on bar at a cafe.”
La Colombe spent about 6 percent of its revenue from the canned coffee business on the ad campaign. The company hopes that steering people toward the canned draft lattes will make customers realize they can buy the same product at their local supermarket, corner store, or Wawa.
“We’re still a challenger brand,” O’Connor said.
There are 25 other La Colombe cafes in New York City, Boston, Washington, Chicago, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Beverly Hills.
La Colombe, a private company, declined to share revenue numbers, but said purchases of its cold coffee had skyrocketed in popularity in the last three years, increasing more than 300 percent, the company said.
La Colombe will also have advertisements promoting its Draft Latte in cities outside of Philadelphia, including Chicago, Denver, Tampa, Charlotte, Raleigh, and Jacksonville. The company said it worked with Junction 37, a New York City-based media agency, on the ad campaign.
The free coffee offering Friday, a first for the company, is launching on the first day of summer, the most popular season for cold coffee beverages. Almost two-thirds of all coffee sold in cafes last August was cold, the company said.
The free Mocha Draft Latte with any purchase will be offered until 2 p.m. or while supplies last.