Espresso and customer loyalty

So I just discovered the joys of coffee, or more specifically, espresso.

I know.  Those of you who know me to be high energy are now perplexed.  You thought it was caffeine, didn’t you? Nope, it’s all natural.  Well — now with added espresso.

Before we begin, fair warning.  I’m a storyteller, so I won’t be getting into the secrets of gaining customer loyalty for this Monday Musing until further along.  If you have time to unfold my midlife espresso discovery initiated by my riveting birthday adventures in Colombia, then continue right along.  Otherwise, feel free to click here to scroll down quickly for the key takeaways for gaining customer loyalty.

Now, back to a tale of espresso enlightenment.  

3 Underrated Open Secrets to Gaining Customer Loyalty 

How could I, just now in my 40s, be discovering the pleasures of the cocoa bean?

Well, a 14-year-old me first tried coffee and immediately hated it; followed by a 19-year-old me who reached the same conclusion. I subsequently became a connoisseur of fine teas, as my three tea-lined cabinet shelves can attest.

My journey to this new addiction began fittingly in Colombia, during my 2021 annual birthday trip. A cup of Joe was thrust in my hand upon arrival at my Manizales hotel after a harrowing road trip to this mountain town from Cali, Colombia. I normally would have waived away the cup and requested tea instead, but I had quietly hoped the coffee was spiked with aguardiente – the country’s national liquor – after the misadventure I’d just experienced getting there.

Apparently, my Cali hotel failed to inform me the driver they’d hired to get me to my next destination four hours away was not actually licensed to perform these duties.  So when he and I arrived at a police blockade, the driver turned to me and said in Spanish, “If the police ask, tell them we’re old friends and you just came to visit me.”

Never mind my broken Spanish and the fact that he himself didn’t speak any English. But sure, this was a viable plan!

Colombia Misadventures

Luckily, and as usual, thanks to the mercy of the Angels That Protect Me From My Own StupidityTM, fortune favored me as the police were too busy inspecting every last bag in an intercity bus’s baggage compartment. They waved us along.

I’ll save you the remaining details of my road trip from hell, steered by my zany, kooky driver who continuously reaffirmed to me over the four hour trek that I am, in fact, watched over by Angels That Protect Me From My Own StupidityTM!

Back to my Manizales hotel and the cup of coffee in my hand.

Can I tell you the contents of the alcohol-free cup was the most delicious liquid my old tongue had ever tasted?

Still not convinced to give up my exclusive palate for tea, I wouldn’t entertain the coffee bean again until this past Thanksgiving.

After waking up the next day, still groggy from tryptophan, my sister-in-law responded to my demand for caffeine by handing me a cup of espresso, made by my brother’s fancy espresso maker, which takes up about three feet of kitchen counter space. 

Yada, yada, yada, I’m now an addict!

My new addiction has now brought the Breville Bambino into my home, right next to my Breville One Touch Teamaker. Alas, the Bambino came by way of Macy’s as I don’t like paying full price for anything and the smartest companies want you to pay full price!

When I went to register the machine, however, I discovered had I actually bought it directly from Breville at full price, which would have only been $30 more, I would have received for free a beautiful, complete starter espresso kit, valued at $199!

And now I’m kicking myself for not paying full price.

As a luxury marketer, it’s clear to me what Breville did. They offered additional value as means to increase their profits.

Had I known I would have gotten this beautiful kit, Breville would have made more money from me as they took 100% of the sale instead of the 50% (or more) they now must share with Macy’s.

Now, don’t get me wrong, retailers are absolutely necessary, as they’re often how a customer first discovers you.  I am a huge fan of Breville products because the toaster oven I bought from Macy’s 10 years ago is still kicking, unlike my knees.

I’ve since bought a few more Breville appliances, all of which have delighted me. So when I started to explore becoming an espresso connoisseur, my loyalty naturally went to Breville, even though hardcore espresso drinkers champion other brands.

You’ve made it this far.  So now let me reward you with three underrated open secrets for gaining customer loyalty.

woman shopping as part of customer loyaltyOpen Secret to Gaining Customer Loyalty 1: Superior Quality Meets Exceptional Service

First, Breville earned customer loyalty from me because every single product I’ve bought from them has made me happy.

If you offer the same diligence to your customers by always offering a superior product and matching customer service, as Breville does, you, too will gain customer loyalty.

I know this sounds easy enough, but I assure you, a lot of luxury brands don’t understand this.

Take Michael Kors. 

Every item I’ve ever purchased from Michael Kors has brought me nothing but disappointment.  And yet I kept buying because he sure does know how to make pretty things!

Then I spent generously on a new winter coat.  Within 45 days, the zipper broke. I took it back to the Michael Kors store only to be told I should take it to a tailor to fix it. Returning or exchanging it wasn’t an option.

Superior product and matching customer service? No, thank you, Michael Kors told me. Take your customer loyalty elsewhere!

On the other hand, you have a premium company like Brahmin, who happily makes my handbags look new again for free whenever I ask — even past their two-year warranty period.

The Michael Kors coat cost the same as two of my most expensive Brahmins, yet only the handbags still have a functioning zipper!

Open Secret to Gaining Customer Loyalty 2: Use Third Party Sales to Create Direct Consumer Interactions

Second, retailers are extremely useful for any brand, beyond the financial renumeration they offer.

If it wasn’t for Macy’s, I wouldn’t be here now telling you about Breville. But a strong DTC business will insulate you from the ups and downs of luxury department stores, particularly when they can’t pay you.

Be grateful for your retail partners, but think about yourself.

A lot of major stores now have a robust drop shipping business. If you go to Neiman’s website and the item you want to buy is not available in ANY store nationwide, that item is coming directly from the brand. To my understanding, and someone correct me if I’m wrong, the brands aren’t given anything more than the name and address to ship the item. In this way, the customer loyalty stays with the store.

I’m not telling you to try to steal customers away from your retail partners, but I’m not NOT exactly telling you that either! I am instead suggesting you to build relationships with the customers that buy your products, regardless of how they emerged.

It’s very easy to get your customers’ contact information. Slip in a warranty card encouraging the customer to register their purchase to receive something special. Make the offer valuable so they do it.

Abracadabra, you now have their email address! And if you’re very, very smart, you also have their birthday, anniversary and dates of other significant events in their life. And if you’re truly a genius rockstar, you’ve also convinced them to tell you their likes and dislikes on the registration page.

Revolutionary idea, no?

Of course not. Most brands offer warranties. Very few take advantage of the opportunity it gives them to connect more meaningfully with the customers boosting their balance sheets.

With your new ability to directly contact your customers, send them useful information.

Ahem. USEFUL information.

Don’t make the mistake of always trying to sell them something.

Creating Customer Loyalty with Newsletters

Open Secret to Gaining Customer Loyalty 3: Use Newsletters to Seduce, Not Sell

I recently signed up for newsletters from the luxury cosmetic line Shiseido. Now in my 40s, I’m looking for a great product that continues to allow me to shock people when I tell them I’m in my 40s.

Thanks to Bloomingdale’s, Shiseido reappeared on my radar after first being introduced to the brand in my 20s. I happily spent $400 on products in hopes they would solve the skin problems apparently only I see, according to my dermatologist. I signed up for the newsletter to learn more about how their products work.

I gave them an opportunity to gain my customer loyalty by convincing me they had exactly what I needed.  Instead, they kept sending me newsletters offering discounts to buy more products that have no relevance to me.  At least I think they don’t because they never bother to share in the email what the product actually does!

I’ve become disappointed with the products I bought and will no longer spend money on Shiseido. It’s very possible I chose the wrong products and there might be something in their line that performs the miracle I’m looking for. Sadly, they’ve given me no reason to find out!   

I hope this is an Aha! moment for some of you, particularly those struggling with designing a newsletter campaign that encourages cutomer loyalty.

The goal of your newsletter is to seduce, not sell.

Show me a beautiful cashmere sweater on a model that looks somewhat like me.  Allow me to imagine the compliments I will receive wearing that sweater.

Now I’ve sold the sweater to myself. And all you did was drop an idea in my head of how the sweater will delight me.

For non-apparel items, reinforce to my why I did the right thing by buying your products.  Tell me more about your company, what you stand for, what other products you’ve created and why those products will complement my lifestyle.

Don’t immediately tell me the price! Let me discover that on my own once you’ve convinced me you might be just what I need.

Stop selling in your newsletters, and start seducing!

As for Breville, their mistake was not emailing me about the beautiful starter espresso kit to go with a beautiful starter espresso maker, even though I’ve registered the warranty for all my previous purchases. But they’re forgiven.  After all, my last Breville purchase was for their fanciest tea maker.


  1. Customer Loyalty Through Quality: The importance of maintaining high product quality and matching customer service to earn and retain customer loyalty.

  2. Value of Direct Purchases: Encouraging customers to buy directly from the brand by offering additional value, such as complete starter kits, can enhance profits and customer experience, leading to customer loyalty.

  3. Effective Use of Warranty Cards: Utilizing warranty cards not only for product registration but also as a tool to capture valuable customer information and preferences.

  4. Strategic Newsletter Content: The significance of crafting newsletters that seduce rather than sell, providing content that engages and intrigues the customer without overtly pushing for sales.

  5. Creating Emotional Connections: The ability of a brand to connect with customers on an emotional level through storytelling and personalized experiences is at the heart of engineering customer loyalty.

  6. Leveraging Retail Partnerships: While direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales are beneficial, retail partners play a crucial role in brand discovery and customer acquisition.

  7. Customer Data for Personalized Marketing: Collect customer data such as email addresses, birthdays, and preferences to tailor marketing efforts and build a more personalized relationship.

  8. Consistent Customer Satisfaction: Consistently satisfy customers with both the product and the service to build a loyal customer base, and reap the reward of customer loyalty.

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