illycaffè: The Family-Run Coffee Brand with a Global Punch

For illy­caf­fè CEO, Mas­si­m­il­iano Pogliani, a brand’s val­ues are as impor­tant as its prod­ucts. “You can­not make a good prod­uct if you are not a good com­pa­ny,” he stressed at Adobe Sum­mit EMEA this year, adding that this focus on val­ues also extends to illycaffè’s cre­ative approach. “Aes­thet­ics must still be mar­ried with ethics,” he said, “Oth­er­wise, what you are doing is just cosmetic”.

This think­ing has set his com­pa­ny apart through­out its 85-year his­to­ry. illy­caf­fè has built a glob­al fol­low­ing over the years for both the qual­i­ty of its cof­fee and for its cre­ative flair as a brand, but it remains a fam­i­ly-owned busi­ness with strong val­ues. It is the only major cof­fee pro­duc­er to buy beans direct­ly from cof­fee grow­ers, and still favours a brand-first strat­e­gy that puts cus­tomer loy­al­ty above all else.

Despite stay­ing true to its routes, illy­caf­fè is con­stant­ly rein­vent­ing itself, most recent­ly embark­ing on a major dig­i­tal trans­for­ma­tion pro­gramme in part­ner­ship with Adobe and Accen­ture. illycaffè’s ambi­tion is to extend its brand and com­mu­ni­ty across chan­nels, so cus­tomers can enjoy a per­fect cof­fee at home, in the street, or in one of its cafes.

More specif­i­cal­ly, illy­caf­fè has three aims for its transformation:

1. Attract more cus­tomers through dig­i­tal channels

This will help illy­caf­fè to strength­en its exist­ing rela­tion­ships and build new ones as it expands into glob­al markets.

2. Build a robust online sales channel

illycaffè’s web­sites will become an ‘Expe­ri­ence Hub’, where cof­fee lovers can immerse them­selves in the illy brand and feel they are part of a broad­er community.

3. Improve con­tent velocity

A more effi­cient approach to con­tent means illy­caf­fè can roll out new cus­tomer expe­ri­ences more quick­ly. Using a core frame­work to sim­pli­fy the process, illy­caf­fè is now re-plat­form­ing its web­sites glob­al­ly to deliv­er the per­fect blend of sto­ry­telling and dig­i­tal convenience.

Behind illycaffè’s approach to dig­i­tal con­tent are a new con­tent man­age­ment sys­tem and dig­i­tal asset man­age­ment solu­tion, which allow the brand to deliv­er more per­son­alised expe­ri­ences and new forms of cus­tomer inter­ac­tions. For instance, cus­tomers can now use voice-based com­mands to browse and inter­act with recipes on the company’s mobile app.

The cof­feemak­er is com­ple­ment­ing its new dig­i­tal expe­ri­ences with advanced ana­lyt­ics behind the scenes, help­ing it to improve its lev­el of cus­tomer under­stand­ing. By con­nect­ing the dots between its dig­i­tal chan­nels, illy­caf­fè will gain deep­er insight into how best to serve its audi­ence and can adapt its dig­i­tal offer­ing in real-time to respond to their ever-evolv­ing needs.

This is cru­cial for Pogliani, who believes get­ting dig­i­tal right is about lis­ten­ing to cus­tomers and tak­ing their feed­back on board. illy­caf­fè con­tin­ues to grow and punch above its weight – it just announced plans to open 200 new cafés in the US over the next five years – while its com­mit­ment to con­nec­tion and com­mu­ni­ty is as strong as ever. illycaffè’s val­ues have always dis­tin­guished it from the com­pe­ti­tion, and even as it finds new ways to delight cof­fee lovers around the world, stay­ing true to its brand both offline and online will con­tin­ue to be the back­bone of its success.

Learn more about deliv­er­ing per­son­alised, con­tent-led expe­ri­ences here.