Focus Group & Zmet


Focus Group: A Gathering of the Coffee Spirits



7 Participants, 2 observers, 1 host and a few cups of coffee.


To generate discussion about the role which coffee plays in the lives of our target market and thus seek deeper understanding about CBTL as a brand to the consumers.

Brand Personification


Coffee’s main purpose – to stay awake!

To all the participants, coffee’s primary role is to help them stay awake in their busy lives. Its strong taste and aroma is the key to giving them that energetic boost they desire. Other secondary factors include its comforting nature, the warmth it offers and simply, pure addiction!

Choice of coffee – dependent on culture & environment

Many could identify with the coffee-drinking culture in Singapore – a highly adaptive and flexible one. Be it a cup of “kopi-o” in heartland food courts or a “Latte” from premium coffee joints, Singaporeans have a fondness for every category of coffee. Student participants say that it is more convenient to get a cup of coffee from “Koufu” before classes, but yet if they are free after class they would not mind chilling or studying in a café like Starbucks or CBTL.

The meaning of Starbucks – mixed responses

Surprisingly, we had diverse perspectives of Starbucks as a brand, although it has been viewed as the market leader and our main competitor. Two participants viewed it as “elitist” and “mainstream” while some deemed it to be a place that provides “the best customer experience”. 3/7 participants mentioned that taste of Coffee Bean’s coffee is superior to Starbucks but that they would still patronize Starbucks for a variety of reasons (friends, mood, lifestyle).

CBTL – a place with great food!

Participants were all able to name at least 2 items from the CBTL menu that they thought were “tasty” and “delicious”. Some love the breakfast meals; and some the lunch sets. This is definitely something noteworthy, as CBTL has already opened “Beanstro”, a trendy all-dining bistro inspired by the brand. Could CBTL already be capitalizing on this particular strength it possesses?

It needs rebranding, period.

ALL participants discussed vehemently on the branding of CBTL. Most agreed on the fact that it does not have a clear positioning; however some feel it is fine the way it is. But as compared to Starbucks, they feel that much has to be done in catching up with them.

Moving forward…

The above insights will form the basis of our survey, as we seek to affirm our findings and conclusions about CBTL as a brand and where it stands in the minds of our target market.

Blind Taste Test

A blind taste test was carried out to to test if quality of coffee is certainly a factor that users can discern. The purpose of the blind taste test was to uncover the real taste of CBTL as compared to competing brands.

The taste test was conducted among 3 working adults and 7 tertiary students. Brewed coffee from the 4 brands, CBTL, Starbucks, Spinelli and TCC were given to the participants in a random order and participants were asked to rate them on aroma, flavour and overall preference.

We found out that CBTL was actually rated higher on the average dimensions of aroma and flavour as well as overall preference. However, most respondents wrongly identified their preferred brand as Starbucks.  This could mean that CBTL does have a higher overall quality than its competitors but perceives CBTL not to be of higher quality by most respondents, choosing Starbucks instead.

ZMET Study: Metaphors of “Premium Coffee”

Using the same participants from the focus group discussion, we told them to collect 12 photos that represented “Premium Coffee”. Subsequently, one-on-one interviews were conducted to explore the images that they picked. With the usage of “Laddering” and structured in a guided conversational style, we wanted to elicit the hidden meanings of premium coffee to our target market. 

Sample pictures

Consensus Map

Summary of Insights

  • Premium coffee should be enjoyed with friends or loved ones.
  • Our target market leads hectic lives and they yearn for comfort, warmth and liberation; some wanting a café to be like a second home.
  • They believe social responsibility is integral to the origins of the coffee beans used to make the coffee.
  • Premium coffee is a signage to others that they are able to afford coffee at such price points; hence gratifying them with a sense of social status.
  • Drinking premium coffee allows them to feel relaxed and at home.

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