Is Patch The New Starbucks?

November 5, 2010

The toughest challenge I have as a hyperlocal news site publisher is creating habitual readers. These are the people that come again and again and probably read other hyperlocal sites for news about various neighborhoods. I have enough confidence in our product that if someone is a habitual hyperlocal news consumer, they will want to visit our sites.

Before came along, there were a lot of people who never even considered hyperlocal news as a legitimate source. But Patch, which has a tremendous marketing effort behind it, has the goal of not only capturing people who do a lot of websurfing, but everyone that reads weekly print publications for local news. Patch is attempting to not only attract existing hyperlocal news readers, but create new ones.

This got me thinking about Starbucks. It’s hard to imagine now that there almost as many Starbucks as McDonald’s, but twenty years ago, Starbuck’s mission was to convince coffee consumers that they wanted to spend $3 on coffee. Starbucks aimed to create a whole new class of consumer.

Says Doug Zell, CEO of independent coffee roaster Intelligensia, “They do a lot of things right, and they raise public awareness about coffee. They basically opened the door. I think that the fact Starbucks is so ubiquitous has driven up the expectations for what is expected of an independent coffee roaster.”

I don’t live in a Patch area, but I do hear a lot more talk about hyperlocal news than I did a year ago. I’m wondering if the creation of Patch News has something to do with that.