It seems that State Farm is continuing the long linkage between coffee, new ideas, insurance and marketing. What do you think: Is State Farm on the right track? And, is hot java integral to social marketing?
A little over a year ago, State Farm opened Next Door, a place for Gen Y-ers to hang out, drink coffee, chat with friends, and learn a little bit about insurance. According to the State Farm website, it addresses some questions for insurance customers and for State Farm:
“What if we didn’t have to face the scary idea of planning our futures alone, scavenging for info online? What if we talked and worked together in new, collaborative ways and figured things out? …
“We really wanna learn what people really want. Then, we’ll shoot those wants back to the Farm. We help you. You help us innovate. We’re all smarter for it. We think it’s a win-win.”
A year later, it seems that it has driven enough wins that State Farm is satisfied with the ‘experiment’. A recent article in PropertyCasualty360.com quotes Brett Myers, Next Door’s program director, saying that even though there are no plans to expand beyond one location,the State Farm agents are generally positive. Further, Myers notes, Next Door “is proving that even with the younger generation, people want to talk to a person or connect with their peers in person.” In other words, it is a physical complement to the social networked world that is forming.
But why a coffee shop? There is something about coffee and big ideas. Back in the early days of the commercial Internet, most people didn’t have reasonable speed connections available in their homes. As a result, coffee shops began reinventing themselves by adding a few high speed line and re-branding their shops as ‘Internet Cafes’.
The aroma of coffee permeated the music, politics and poetry of the 20th century. Blues from the Delta and Chicago and folk music from New York to L.A. were fueled by caffeine. The Caffe Trieste and Allen Ginsberg’s City Lights Books have complemented each other in North Beach, San Francisco for over 50 years.
In regards the link between coffee and technology, need we say more that ‘Java’?
And, going back to insurance, we should not forget that in 1688, Edward Lloyd started the modern era of insurance when he opened a coffee house that offered merchants a facility to offload some of the risk of shipping goods in exchange for a small percentage of the profit.
We congratulate State Farm for contributing to this wonderful tradition. What do you think? Is it important to mix the physical and the virtual for maximum benefit? And, is coffee the best liquid to blend in?