All it takes is a trip to Aundh or Camp to drive home the dullness of living in Pune’s Senapati Bapat Road. Packed with huge trade towers bumbling with the offices of umpteen software firms, it has very little to offer when you crave for an un-‘official’ weekend out. Yeah, there’s Crossword whose bookish little alleys have several surprises perennially lined up…( and the sights and sounds of young bookworms coming in with their proud parents on Sunday mornings are quite delightful I admit ) Then you have an unassuming eatery (Art Beat) on the lane opposite Chaturshringi Temple and no the name doesn’t come from blotted letters H and E. It serves fairly decent food if you can learn to endure exhaust fumes and a mild heat wave. But you get the picture don’t you – there aren’t any malls or cinemas, no shopping streets buzzing with activity, no food plazas. So when you come across not one but two immensely crowded Coffee Shops, you can’t help but pay a visit. And that is quite obviously the USP of S.B. Road’s favourite hangouts: Coffee Shop and Coffee Stop.
I have set going some inside research on whether they have a tie-up, expansion plans and the like. But the current scenario hints at cut-throat competition and well formulated business strategies:
Origins: Can be traced back to a few years ago, around the time when Deep Bungalow Chowk started getting crowds of starving college students and weary software professionals.
Strategic Brand Name: A blink and you miss it difference (coincidentally, the only disparity being between two tall alphabets, it’s even harder to spot) has a multi-fold advantage. “I was at Coffee Shop yesterday…” you tell a pal, “you know the one near MKCL Finishing School”. Pal turns up at spot next day and by then has forgotten whether you said shop or stop and in all truth cannot be bothered to check. The same business principle applies for the written and print media or telephonic conversations if you go that far.
Parallel Growth Location: The two stores are located within a bare inch of a separation distance. From afar, the crowd you see can pertain to either of the stores, thus camouflaging the Varying Crowd Syndrome and making no impact on your decision to choose one over the other. This way, they also make use of Load Balancing and you can shift to the adjacent store if the other is too occupied with customers.
Harmonious Interior Decor: With one all done up in yellow and the other in bright pink, quite a feast for the eye awaits a customer. A signboard put up by Coffee Shop with a cheery ‘Eat Drink Hangout’ announcement was followed by a similar one at Coffee Stop which came up with the bright idea of a traffic signal graphic and a notification about the ‘branches at Symbiosis’. (see picture above) Not to be outdone, both vendors have been heard talking about menu decorations and uniforms for the staff among other things.
Food and Drink: Tawa pulao, breadcrumbs and cold coffee are the three most ordered for dishes on both menus. They cater well to the requirements of the target audience (for instance: college students looking for snacks that don’t leave pocket holes/office goers who are still unmarried and untended for) in being light, quick and snack-y. While Coffee Stop has recently been working on varying its Cold Coffee (containing glass and chocolate essence), Coffee Shop also has surprises lined up its sleeve.
#1: Giggling girl in green
On Coffee Shop: “Saviour is the word… it satisfies our food cravings when we are too lazy to cook… my roommate and I have no idea what we would do without!”
On Coffee Stop: “Err… didn’t I just talk about it?”
#2: Young bloke with chunky (silver?) chain
On Coffee Shop: “I love the fried rice and the hot chocolate… and of course the crowd.” (chuckles)
On Coffee Stop: (can’t be bothered to comment for fresh gang of three girls has recently dropped in)
Next time you stop at S.B. Road or Deep Bungalow Chowk, don’t miss out on a quick bite at Pune’s classic examples of market competition.