Who Killed Juan Valdez?

Who killed Juan Valdez? Las Vegas police have a suspect, according to the news media.Whoops! Thats the wrong Juan Valdez.The Juan Valdez that VendingMarketWatch is interested in was never party to a street drug deal like the Juan killed Sunday in Las Vegas. Were concerned about the guy with the mule whose image stands for 100 percent Colombian coffee, the one-time gold coffee standard.Where are you, Senor Valdez? You and your mule got lost in the mountains while Starbucks, Peets, Caribou, Green Mountain, Seattles Best Coffee, McDonalds, Dunkin Donuts, Folgers, Millstone, Maxwell House, and others changed Americas relationship with coffee. One hundred percent Colombian coffee is no longer the mark of excellence it was!Dow Jones News recently reported that the money-losing Juan Valdez chain of Colombian coffee shops closed its Times Square branch in New York City on Feb. 28. To understand how out of touch the iconic Juan Valdez has become with the consumer, a spokesman for Colombia's National Federation of Coffee Growers, which owns the Juan Valdez brand, said the closure was due to changing consumption patterns because of the ailing economy, and consumers buying more coffee from supermarkets to brew at home and fewer coffee drinks prepared in shops. Talk about being lost in the mountains!Most of the big coffee chains have reported strong growth despite the sluggish economy. Thats because they, along with some of the leading convenience foodservice chains and coffee service operators, have delivered the value consumers are looking for. Coffee retailers are winning despite the recession because they are committed to quality and constantly reminding the consumer they are giving them what they want.Juan Valdez offers a lesson in failed marketing and advertising. Brands mean everything in refreshment services. To sustain their strength, operators and manufacturers have to continue to support their brands with marketing and advertising. The responsibility rests with both parties; manufacturers must provide the creative messaging, and operators have to use the communication programs that marketing initiatives provide.Otherwise, grab your mule, pack a lunch and give our best to Juan.