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5 ways Blank Street Coffee is hooking Gen Z


By Hannah Bowler, Senior reporter

June 3, 2024 | 9 min read

What’s behind the rapid growth of Gen Z’s favorite Intagrammable coffee chain? As part of our Build a Brand series, we break down the key ingredients.

Blank Street Coffee store front

Blank Street Coffee storefront on the Kings Road, London / Blank Street Coffee

If you work in New York or London, you might have noticed green-fronted coffee shops filled with Gen Zers drinking matcha lattes in just about every neighborhood. Blank Street Coffee has been aggressively expanding its footprint as it hopes to become the Starbucks of a new generation of coffee drinkers.

Launched in 2020 originally as a coffee stand in Brooklyn, Blank Street added more New York locations before winning a hefty round of venture capital funding helping it transform into a coffee chain.

It opened its first UK store in June 2022 and within six months opened a further 13. As of May 2024, Blank Street Coffee has 30 UK locations mainly in central London with a few in Manchester.

When speaking to its UK marketing director, Claudia Winter, it’s clear that Blank Street has ambitions to be a chain coffee shop to rival Starbucks, Dunkin, or Café Nero. Although anecdotally people say Blank Street Coffee feels like a local independent coffee shop it doesn’t want to be seen as one.

“We believe that it’s the small things in life that build great foundations for your day, and that’s what we feel is missing from a lot of the other larger chains on the high street, and so the gap that we are filling,” Winter tells The Drum. “We do that through great service, fun and innovative products, high-quality ingredients and beautiful modern spaces.”

1) Color

Blank Street Coffee Instagram feed

Color is vital to Blank Street Coffee’s marketing strategy. If you take a look at its Instagram feed, you will see a nod to its fern green color in almost every shot. Then, on its tagged pictures, its customers post pictures with matching nails, phone cases, clothes and interiors.

Blank has collaborated with Stanley Quencher on a fern green water cup and Shoreditch Nails on a lacquer color. The brand is consistent with its fern green color across all of its touch points from its matcha drinks to its storefronts, cups, straws and Instagram feed. “This means that whether customers discover us when they’re scrolling through their feed or stepping through the city, they can instantly recognize our brand,” Winter says.

The fern green is supported by secondary colors to ensure campaigns stay “fresh” and have “personality.” As Winter says, “This gives each seasonal campaign its own tone, whilst remaining distinctly Blank Street.” These secondary colors also come through in the drinks, with purple, yellow, white and red being layered with the green in its flavored iced matcha.

2) Marketing

Blank Street recently launched its ‘Meet for Matcha’ campaign, which aims to reinforce drinking matcha lattes as a daily afternoon social ritual. “Based on internal data, we were able to identify that for many of our customers, the Blank Street matcha run is first and foremost a social ritual, with people coming in groups and happily snapping their drinks to share with their online communities,” Winter says.

The campaign creative, therefore, focused on social connection using images of text messages between friends. Blank Street also developed a fake meeting template allowing workers to sync a recurring appointment into their calendars to break with colleagues and friends with matcha. There were suggestions like ‘Multi-Team Alignment Assembly’ and ‘Circle Back Session’ and the more ridiculous ‘Reinventing The Wheel Touch Base’.

Girl drinking matcha on her laptop

With several different flavored matcha to choose from Blank Street created a gamified way to sample each one. Consumers first had to guess the flavors before swiping right (or left) on their scorecard to mark their perfect match. Once they’d found it, their scorecard doubled up as a token for a full-sized version of their favorite. “The activation generated millions of social views and word of mouth recommendations for their favorite drink and Meet for Matcha moments,” Winter says.

3) Product

Winter and her marketing team are heavily involved in Blank Street Coffee's product development. “To help identify potential product trends that we’re seeing, we're pulling inspiration from anywhere and everywhere, from the world of fashion to food,” Winter says. One example is the Cherry Cold Brew Latte, which taps into a current social trend for cherry lip balm.

“Once we’ve got a shortlist of potential product options, we then manage the consumer insights piece, taking the chosen drinks through rounds of consumer testing before we define their go-to-market plans to bring them to life for our customers,” she adds. Blank Street also sells merchandise including t-shirts, hats, coffee beans and tote bags.

4) The tech

Marketing consultant Darren Lewis credits Blank Street’s success as “The intersection of design, tech and coffee. Many coffee businesses miss the tech point by a long margin and that has consumer appeal, especially for their demographic.”

Blank Street Coffee has an app where customers can pre-order coffee and access their loyalty and subscription schemes. In the US, customers can pay $8.99 and $17.99 per week, offering up to 14 beverages per week. The higher-priced plan gives access to a wider range of drinks, money off food and merchandise.

5) Collaborations

Along with Stanley and Shoreditch Nails, Blank Street Coffee has partnered with Brooklyn-based streetwear brand Only NY for a co-branded apparel line of tote bags and T-shirts. Then there is a tie-up with mega influencer and YouTuber Emma Chamberlain on her coffee brand, Kendall Jenner’s 818 Tequila, and sunscreen brand Supergoop.

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