Redesigning the Coffee Shop


Coffee shop owners say they are failing to turn a profit because remote workers spend too much time in their cafés without spending a lot of money. 

++ UPDATE: Barbara Kahn and I will discuss this topic on April 11, 2018 at 5:30 ET on her Wharton Business Radio show Marketing Matters.++

On Monday, March 11, 2018 I will be talking to a number of CBC radio morning shows about some of the fascinating sociological and marketing implications of this recent marketplace phenomenon.

Topics that I will discuss include

  • how consumer researchers use ethnography and other methods to reveal the hidden meanings of commercial spaces,

  • the history of coffeeshops as a social space and as a workplace,

  • negotiations about what is a public or private space for consumption, 

  • the presentation of the consumer self in everyday life,

  • the marketplace history and politics of nomadic work,

  • commercial spaces as sites of class/ethnic/intergenerational identity and struggle,

  • how experience designers draw on stories and materiality (e.g, light, sound, furniture, temperature, product, people etc.) to shape commercial spaces (and influence our behavior and choices as consumers),

  • and to shape our sense of time,

  • the techniques coffee shop owners can now use to more subtly change consumer perceptions of time,

  • and how consumers who co-create experiential reality frequently resist and undermine these efforts.

Further Academic Readings

If you have listened to one of the radio interviews and wish to dig deeper, I recommend the following academic papers to interested consumers, practitioners, and other journalists and researchers (in no particular order):

Introducing a Spatial Perspective to Analyze Market Dynamics
(Castilhos, Dolbec, and Veresiu 2016, Marketing Theory)

Timeflow: How Consumption Practices Shape Consumers' Temporal Experiences (Woermann and Rokka 2015, Journal of Consumer Research)

Early Modern Ottoman Coffeehouse Culture and the Formation of the Consumer Subject (Karababa and Ger 2011, Journal of Consumer Research)

Place Attachment in Commercial Settings: A Gift Economy Perspective (Debenetti, Oppewal, and Arsel 2013, Journal of Consumer Research)

Why Are Themed Brandstores So Powerful? Retail Brand Ideology at American Girl Place (Borghini et al. 2009, Journal of Retailing)

Emotional Branding and the Strategic Value of the Doppelgänger Brand Image (Thompson, Rindfleisch, and Arsel 2006, Journal of Marketing)

Street Art, Sweet Art? Reclaiming the “Public” in Public Place
(Visconti et al. 2010, Journal of Consumer Research)

Domesticating Public Space through Ritual: Tailgating as Vestaval
(Bradford and Sherry 2015, Journal of Consumer Research)

How Doppelgänger Brand Images Influence the Market Creation Process
(Giesler 2012, Journal of Marketing)

Marketplace Performances and Interdependent Status Games
(Ustuner and Thompson 2012, Journal of Consumer Research)

No Laptops - Source: The Barn Coffee Roasters Berlin (click to visit their website)

No Laptops - Source: The Barn Coffee Roasters Berlin (click to visit their website)

Interview Schedule (EST)


Markus Giesler

Markus Giesler draws on concepts from economics, technology studies, and sociology to inform his research in marketing. He determines how ideas and things (products, services, experiences, technological innovations, intellectual property, brands, etc.) are made valuable over time, with research focused on improving marketing strategy through an understanding of markets as evolving social systems. Giesler's research has been supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the European Research Council (ERC) and published in top-tier academic journals such as the Journal of Consumer Research and the Journal of Marketing. Giesler has an extensive entertainment industry background. He founded his own record label at age 17 and has worked in various production and marketing responsibilities for over a decade. He lives in Toronto, Canada.