Branding opportunities for OCS aren’t restricted to the traditional national brands, however. Some of the newer brands that can be advertised on OCS brewers are more closely associated with specialty coffee.
Cafection Enterprises Inc. recently introduced an Avalon Quad brewer with Green Mountain Coffee graphics. Green Mountain Coffee is fairly well established in the Northeast and is the original K--Cup brand used by Keurig.
More branded concepts emerge
Chris Coffee Service in Albany, N.Y. tested the branded Avalon unit and found that the Green Mountain brand boosted sales. Chris Nachtrieb, president of the Chris Coffee Service, admitted he was surprised; he always believed in the marketing power of his private label coffee, even though he knew Green Mountain has a good name.
Nachtrieb tested Green Mountain branded machines in four locations that offered a dark roast, a regular roast and a decaf. The machines on average returned 35 percent higher sales than the generic machines, which only offered regular and decaf.
Classic Coffee Systems, Ltd. in Valley Stream, N.Y. also found the Green Mountain Coffee branded Avalon brewer improved sales over the generic Avalon machine. “We are pushing gourmet products at gourmet prices,” said Charles Chiarello, company president. “They want to know they are drinking a gourmet brand.”Aramark Refreshment Services has recently added the Green Mountain branded Avalon machine to its arsenal of branded coffee offerings, noted Brian Zaslow, vice president of marketing at Aramark.
W.P. Coffee Co. will be launching a branded pod brewer this year. Don Stoulil, co--owner, noted that the purpose is two--fold: to capitalize on the Wolfgang Puck brand, and to assure the customer that the coffee is being prepared according to W.P. Coffee specifications. “We want to marry the machine with what we think is the best tasting pod coffee out there,” Stoulil said. “It makes sense to brand it and identify the difference and the unique value to the customer.”
Brands as quality assurance
W.P. Coffee isn’t the only roaster that is marketing a proprietary machine to serve its coffee; the same is true for the Gevalia cartridge brewer and the Starbucks single--cup brewer. In all three cases, the companies are using a retail consumer brand to signify a certain quality level.
Mike Tomkins, regional sales manager at Newco Enteprises Inc., which makes the Gevalia cartridge machine and a variety of other brewers, observed that these three programs are using a formula that has already proven itself in OCS—a machine that requires a specific product—and taken it a step further using retail branding.
The formula has already been proven by machines requiring proprietary product. But where Keurig and Flavia are commercial brands—known mainly to the trade— Wolfgang Puck, Gevalia and Starbucks are consumer brands. In time, the distinction between commercial and consumer brands could blur. Keurig, for instance, has been selling a homeowner model to consumers.
Dave Mandella, vice president at Full Service Vending Inc., Rockaway, N.J., said the fact that there is a homeowner Gevalia brewer makes him more confident about placing Gevalia cartridge machines. He said half of the consumers, in response to one promotion, indicated having a Gevalia homeowner unit.
Situations call for different strategies
Tomkins of Newco Enterprises said different strategies will make sense depending on the situation. “I think there are times when using the least expensive is a good strategy, and then there are times when the manufacturer supports a brand and supports a program.” Vending and OCS operators alike need to upgrade their coffee programs to compete with other retailers in winning over today’s coffee consumer. Operators cannot afford to discount the importance of branding in developing better coffee programs.
While branding is one of several factors that come into play, vending and OCS operators need to accept the fact that the coffee business nowadays requires a bigger investment for any operator serious about success.