Single, Ready to Mingle
One is the loneliest
number... well, I guess that is what America is saying vs. its European
counterparts. Single-serve coffee machines aren’t taking off as hoped
for manufacturers Sara Lee Corp. and Kraft Foods Inc. Two years ago, these
companies and others introduced Senseo, Tassimo and other single-serve
coffee systems, which use new machines, ranging from $50 to $150, and
coffee pods to make café-type coffee at home. Since the machines
were a success in Europe, the companies thought single-serve coffee would
be a hit in the U.S. market as well.
Not the case. While U.S. coffee drinkers spend more
than $4.1 billion on coffee they drink at home, the single-serve systems
have earned only 2.4 percent of that, generating about $100 million in
2005, according to Mintel International and reported in the Chicago Tribune. That’s
less than anticipated by Sara Lee and Kraft. Overall, the coffee market
rakes in $19 billion for the beverage industry.
While the individual coffee packets allow consumers to
make a drink at home for about $0.30, which is substantially cheaper than
coffee shop coffee, cost doesn’t really seem to be a factor.
Restaurant coffee sales are growing about 4 percent annually, much faster
than at-home coffee sales, Mintel International reports. America definitely
likes its caffeine (note that the energy drink category doubled its sales
this year). It might be that they like more of it, because consumers
aren’t normally drinking just one cup or a single-serving size.
Whether brewing a whole pot at home or choosing from Tall, Grande or Venti
at the local Starbucks, chances are one cup isn’t enough.
And size might not be the only factor. Whether
stopping for coffee at the coffee or donut shop, quick-service location or
convenience store, whatever ambiance or morning ritual this offers
the consumer adds a wanted, welcomed or endured interaction to his or her
day. Are the commonly viewed non-conformist coffee drinkers social
butterflies after all?