Not all good brands can achieve this kind of success, being a magnet for the hipster, college crowd and being family friendly at the same time. I stop by at least three Einstein Brothers here in the valley, and each has its own niche. They have one thing in common: long lines of hungry people who stick around, too.
So what's the lure of Einstein's? Is it their brilliant invisible marketing, or is it a brand that classically fills a need? Personally, I'm not sure if it's my weakness for bagels, the environment, or the coffee that pulls me back. The company says that "Marketing is a key ingredient in our business process. Our programs typically target very specific markets/regions..." Yet I don't get postcards in the mail, I don't see coupons, and I rarely see any advertising. Do they have a secret word-of-mouth channel?
The marketing side of me tells me it is the ambiance, not the baked goods. They have spared little in looking after the retail side of things. The menu boards are so much more friendly than, say Starbucks, their signage
gives them a mom-and-pop feel that doesn't have "slick franchise" written all over it. The employees wear buttons with high-school like slogans ("Thrilled to Chill"), and take time to get to know you.
Then there's my five-year old daughter, who's a different market segment obviously. She will choose Einsteins over McDonald's any day, making me wonder what's their secret sauce. We have a father-and-daughter Sunday morning date. She loves reading the goofy murals about the 'darn good coffee' and posters that declare such things as 'great moments in poultry' while enjoying a cinnamon twist. But she also recognizes good customer service, that at her age is a significant thing. A former manager at the McClintock and Guadalupe store knew her by name. She was thrilled that "Uncle Ron" would come by and chat.
Tempe Einstein's, the iconic store at the corner at Rural and University is a patently ASU hangout, with Sparky and ASU posters competing with drinks advertised as "The Cold and The Beautiful" or branding around Elmo.
The Phoenix store, at the corner of McDowell and 7th, shares the same wall as Starbucks, but if the lines are any indication of a brand's strength, then Elmo wins hands down among the busy working crowd of doctors and women checking their Blackberries.
Even if you're not in marketing, if you have to deal with multiple audiences, spend a few moments at Einsteins. It's a lesson that'll cost you less than two bucks.