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Giant Leap: Why Are US Banks & Clothing Stores Opening Coffee Cafes and Music Venues?

A host of well known American companies are siphoning marketing budgets into opening cafes, coworking spaces and event venues at their places of business – in a new trend which we could soon see in South Africa.

Linda Trim, Director at Giant Leap, one of SA’s largest workplace design consultancies said: “Interest in ‘third places’—public spaces that aren’t home or work where people can gather, hang out or just be—is growing as the line between people’s offices and living rooms grows ever-blurrier in the hybrid work era.
giant-leap-banks-kitchen-view“Bonding with colleagues has become harder and less of a priority for many people in the hybrid world of work. Some employers worry the lack of social cohesion is harming company culture and operations. Bosses are trying hard to reinvigorate flagging job satisfaction which has only increased the interest in other, unusual workplaces.”

Some US brands that don’t usually have anything to do with hospitality – such as nationwide banking giant Capital One Financial, have opened Capital One Cafes across 56 locations in the US. Fashion brand Aviator Nation is gearing up to open its second live music venue and event space.

Mud\Wtr, a company which sells mushroom-based coffee alternatives, opened a mindfulness studio without the noise, and opened a workspace with fast Wi-Fi so people can get things done and take care of themselves in one spot.

“The growing demand is an exciting opportunity to build customer relationships without the more traditional short term sales pressure that people usually experience when interacting with big businesses. Of course if people want to open a bank account with their coffee they can.

“These lifestyle venues add enormous value to customers or potential customers’ daily lives,” Trim noted. “It creates a very positive brand halo that will hopefully lead to sales. They are designed to make a statement about brand values in a physical form and expand people’s exposure to the business.”

Trim added that given that third space venues are ever more popular overseas, she expects them to pop in South Africa in greater numbers this year.

“In places like the Waterfall office park in Johannesburg,which has multiple tenants, there is now a Seattle coffee shop in one of the office buildings. .

“While it might take us a little time for us to get used to the idea, it is catching on so quickly overseas that it’s just a matter of time before we see a local bank offering a cappuccino or retailer adding on a coworking space.”

Typically these venues are judged by the traffic they generate, measures of brand popularity, customer satisfaction levels and whether an opening coincides with a rise in new sales in the local area.

“Marketing executives today are also under increasing pressure to generate sales through their activities, rather than more potent to nebulous metrics such as brand awareness and approval. This is a fresh take for them with more concrete success metrics to point to, “ Trim concluded.

Discover more of the latest in international workplace trends at Giant Leap.

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