I placed my lunch order at Kokoro:
Small chicken katsu with rice, please.
The fella after me ordered:
Small chicken katsu curry rice.
There’s a small difference between his order and mine – it’s not just the ‘please’ or the ‘curry’.
He was speaking the lingo of a regular – each word of his order meant something specific – dish (Chicken katso), size (small), base (rice), and optionals (curry). Mine was close, but my server had to separately ask me if I wanted curry on top (yes).
His order statement wasn’t just about efficiency, it was also about signalling – that he was a loyal customer, one who spoke their lingo.
Next door to Kokoro is my favourite coffee shop in town, Harris + Hoole. They’re a chain, owned by Tesco, but with a very independent, neighbourhood coffee shop vibe. You place your coffee order any way you want1 and they happily make it for you. You can even walk over to the Baristas and chat about your coffee, any special mods, day’s weather, or anything else that suits your fancy.
Contrast this one of the most successful marketing & loyalty schemes ever – the institutionalised coffee ordering terminology at Starbucks. It communicates loyalty, gives the customer a feeling of being on the ‘in’, is flexible to let the customer tweak and be unique, all the while being extremely efficient at communicating the order to the Barista. By opening up their internal coffee lingo to the customers, Starbucks created a word-of-mouth marketing & loyalty program that money couldn’t buy.
And they insist on getting customers to learn it2 – by repeating your order in the correct manner when you don’t order it in the lingo. So that when you get it right after that 5th coffee, you’ll feel the quiet joy of accomplishment, of finally belonging to the clique. Welcome to Starbucks elite!
Does anyone know of companies / brands outside retail who have created marketing assets out of their insider lingo? Any startups who’ve created, or tried to create customer loyalty by creating a niche clique?