By David Gill
’Tis the season to make coffee.
Of all the moments in the calendar year, the holidays have become a crucial time of year for sales of coffeemakers. As a result, manufacturers exert a good deal of their marketing muscle on positioning their coffeemakers high on consumers’ gift lists.
Consumers are drawn to coffeemakers during the holiday shopping season for several reasons. Coffeemakers have “always been a good gift item,” said April Strogen, associate product manager of kitchen electrics for De’Longhi America. “This is especially true for high-end coffeemakers, such as espresso makers. People want to do something special for the holidays, go beyond the usual.”
This trend is not confined to espresso machines. “The holiday season is a very important time of year for coffeemakers and for single-cup [brewers] specifically,” said John Whoriskey, vice president and general manage of the At Home division of Keurig. “About 10 percent to 15 percent of our consumers state they received their Keurig as a gift.”
The holidays offer other opportunities that help spike coffeemaker purchases. “I think it is a combination of replacements/upgrades and gifts,” said John McCann, president of Saeco USA. “Some people entertain more during the holidays and realize they want a new coffeemaker to dress up the kitchen and impress guests.”
Coffeemakers for the holidays also give consumers a money-saving option. “People are riding out the tough economy at home,” said David Shull, vice president of sales and marketing for Jura-Capresso. “They’re saving money by dining and entertaining at home rather than going out. They’re realizing that coffee brewed at home is just as good and more economical.”
Agreeing with Shull, Greg Fea, president and chief executive officer of Illy Caffé North America, said, “As the holidays are an important time for in-home entertaining of family and friends, many people may upgrade their coffee system at this time. Making espresso and espresso-based drinks at home is easy and very economical compared to only buying coffee while people are on the go, and the at-home morning occasion to enjoy coffee is still the most important.”
With so many reasons for consumers to look at coffeemakers as holiday purchases, the vendors are ramping up on marketing campaigns to get their products front and center on retail shelves.
Bosch, which manufactures the Tassimo hot-beverage system, debuted a public-relations campaign for the system in July, which featured a long-lead print outreach. “Launching the campaign early in the summer allowed us to secure Tassimo coverage in long-lead holiday gift lists,” said Marni Hale, marketing relations manager for Bosch’s parent, BSH Home Appliances Corp. Hale added that the campaign has since expanded to include short-lead print and online media, and is now in the process of growing to encompass broadcast media in major markets.
Some vendors have had success with product introductions and what Fea described as “experiential events,” such as in-store demonstrations, specifically with the holidays in mind. “This year we are launching our new iperEspresso system [Illy X7 and X8 machines using iperEspresso capsules],” he said. The company will also conduct in-store demonstrations and events in major cities, including one in New York in which the iperEspresso system will be featured during the New York Wine and Food Festival. “We’re also offering a special introductory price on our X7 and X8 machines that is $200 off the retail price until Dec. 31,” Fea said.
Last year, De’Longhi geared up for the holidays with its launch of the Lattissima, its joint product effort with Nespresso. This year, the company is following a similar approach. “We usually launch high-end products for the holidays in the fall,” Strogen said. “This year’s new product will be the Perfecta fully automatic machine. We’re also sending out trained experts in espresso to do demos in stores.”
Other vendors are gearing up advertising and in-store demonstrations for the holiday season. “Keurig is launching a national television advertising campaign that will run from Nov. 21 to Dec. 21, during early-morning programming and on cable,” Whoriskey said. “We will also have merchandising support from our retail partners, and will continue with our successful in-store demonstration program in November and December.”
For this year’s holidays, Saeco is planning a push for its drip machines and urns. “The Renaissance Glass drip coffeemaker and the Renaissance Portable Coffee Urn will be available in time for the holidays,” said Laura Hanna, marketing manager for housewares at Saeco.