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How to Find the Target Market for a Coffee Shop

So you’ve decided to start your own coffee shop. One of the first and most important things you’ll need to do as an aspiring business owner is to identify your target market.
Simply put, your target market is the group of people whom you will attempt to reach with your new business. In the context of a coffee shop, your target market are the people who will come in, and buy your coffee. Or anything else in your shop.

Your market is also those people who will be most likely to become repeat customers. But, finding your target market isn’t as easy as finding people who love coffee. In this article, we’ll give you some tips on finding the target market for your coffee shop.

Understand the Industry

You might think that the rising popularity of coffee shops is enough of a foundation for a promising coffee enterprise – but actually, there is a lot more you need to understand about the coffee industry. Naturally, when starting a business which requires a physical location, you can expect some unique challenges.

So many factors go into starting a coffee shop. This includes but is not limited to the location and size of your store, your brand, the proper equipment, and of course, the coffee itself. Before diving into these challenges right away, it’s critical you identify your target market, which will in turn affect everything else.

Setting yourself up for success as a business owner means getting to know the ins and outs of the coffee shop industry so that you can deliver customers the best possible experience.


You might think that as a coffee shop owner, anyone who wants a cup of coffee is your target market – but actually, it goes a bit deeper than that. You need to think about what makes your coffee shop stand out from the crowd, and what it brings to the industry as a whole.

The term “demographics” refers to data which identifies a particular set of people. When running a business, your target demographic comes before everything else, and all of your business decisions should be made with your target demographic in mind.

Although coffee shops are frequented by all genders in equal proportion, one age group in particular tends to visit the most. It may come as no surprise to learn that millennials are currently responsible for 44% of all U.S. coffee consumption. This is a great example of an opportunity to turn that raw information into a winning business strategy.

Here are some other great examples of target demographics for a coffee shop:

  • Students
  • Businessmen/Corporate Individuals
  • Tourist Areas
  • Artistic Spaces
  • Airports
  • Community Centers

Different styles of coffee shops can also attract different types of customers. Installing a convenient drive-thru, for instance, will appeal to individuals on-the-go who just want a quick pick-me-up on their way to work or school. A sit-down cafe, on the other hand, might attract visitors or locals looking for their next comfort coffee stop.

Your location choice, menu, pricing, and even outward appearance should all reflect the market you’re trying to reach. For example, if you’re marketing toward caffeine-craving college students, you might want to look into locations near campus or local hangout spots.

Instead of waiting for your customers to find you, you should aim to bring your business to them. This way, you’re where they are already gathering and spending money.

Consider Location

Successful business owners will tell you, “location is everything”. That’s not just a catchy phrase. The coffee shop industry is heavily reliant on finding the ideal location. This is a highly competitive industry, saturated with corporate establishments, Mom n’ Pop shops, and everything in between.

Think about how often you encounter coffee shops while on the road. Next time you find yourself heading home or driving down a busy street, take the time to look around. Imagine where someone would pull over if they needed a quick caffeine buzz.

If you find that you haven’t seen another coffee shop in a while, it might be worth looking into that area. The perfect location for a coffee shop will likely be hiding in plain sight.

Take into account what style of coffee shop you’re looking to build. If you aim to operate a larger cafe, you’ll need more space; whereas a simple drive-thru coffee stand is smaller, but requires a driveable pathway for customers. Additionally, operating your coffee shop in a higher traffic or higher income area means you’ll likely have to raise prices.

Add Something More

You want your coffee shop to hold its own against the competition, stand out from the crowd, and call to your target market. In order to do that, you might want to add something unique to your setup. Repeating the same structure and menus as other coffee shops will make your business forgettable and bland.

Using distinct features in your coffee shop can also attract local attention. Research shows that cultivating a social atmosphere appeals most to Baby Boomers, whereas a drive-thru and unique flavors will appeal more to Gen Z and millennials.

It’s important to know what your target demographic wants, and to deliver. Get creative! Think outside the box and create a new experience that people will want to try – something that inspires them to try your coffee shop as opposed to the others. Providing customers with a meaningful experience makes you more memorable and can create a lasting positive reputation.

Get Connected

Knowing that millennials visit coffee shops the most is a valuable piece of information that you can use to get closer to this market. Get connected online via social media and take the time to learn what’s trending in the coffee industry. You might find some unexpected inspiration and valuable insights about your target market and their wants and needs.

The internet provides an incredible platform through which business owners can get to know their customers even better, which means in turn providing a better experience. Check out what people are saying about other coffee shops nearby, and what they want to see in the future. Having this information can grant you an edge above the competition.

Look for Opportunity

Above all else, keep your eyes open at all times. Be on the lookout for signs that a coffee shop would prosper nearby. If you see a busy street with lots of shops and restaurants, but no coffee shop, it might be time to introduce your brand and your vision to the locals. Opportunity lurks everywhere around us – you just have to be ready to seize it.


Identifying your target market takes a considerable amount of thoughtfulness and insight into local trends, changes, and demographics. Understanding who you want to sell to is only the first step – after that, it’s time to identify your market’s specific demands so you can deliver them a great, unforgettable experience.

Ari Bratsis
Team Writer: Ari is a writer, blogger and small business owner based in Washington state.

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Team Writer: Ari is a writer, blogger and small business owner based in Washington state.

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