Hey, Mister! Coffee?
Recently we spied a commercial for Maxwell House coffee touting drip filter method coffee. Interesting that the bogey man in that spot is French Press.
When David Wronski was in marketing communications he retold to us how he was assigned to the Chase & Sanborn coffee account, then a product of Standard Brands. Chase & Sanborn at one time had been a big brand on the retail shelf, sponsoring the likes of Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy and later Kate Smith. By the time Wronski came into the picture Chase & Sanborn had been let to slip its market share and was pretty much a cash cow. The term "cash cow" is a brand that is let to ride on its former glory with little or no promotional investment. But, we digress.
Part of the drill entering into the coffee business was to spend a day with the Colombian Coffee Bureau then in downtown Manhattan. Besides Coffee A-Z a big take away was the experts touting the superiority of the drip method.
When he got back to the office the first thing David did was call his client to discuss how the folks in the know were recommending drip coffee. The facts however, per the client, "But peculator sales are trending up." In other words, no one was going to invest in promoting a method as such, especially since the budget for the brand was already kept just low enough to keep the Sales Department and the Retail Trade happy that there was marketing investment in the brand to ensure that there would be adequate retail take away to justify shelf space.
Net, net, if you can find Chase & Sanborn brand coffee on the shelf, good luck. As the commodity brands go, it's not a bad product. We ourselves buy custom roast, organic.
The point of the piece (Finally!) is about how someone integrated all that information — drip method/better, percolators/appliance — and came up with Mr. Coffee. This is a good example of structural thinking. The key was to see the issue in terms of the attraction for "appliance" not for percolators as such. Of course there is the built in resistance to scrap the old unit, but look at the electronic gadget market and you see just how easily the public can be moved to get the next new thing.
Mr. Coffee was a revolution. Now, if you want an appliance just try to find a peculator. They're all based in one way or another on some kind of drip process.
Not quite sure why Maxwell House is making the drip case over press. Just something to say probably. That's marketing for you. If you don't have a claim to make for your product, invent a distraction or surround it with some positive, trendy associations. ("Coke adds life," don't you know.)