Sir: I read with interest the story on Waitrose now providing coffee machines in all stores, as well as free coffee to reward card holders.
As a researcher specialising in fmcg consumer behaviour, I believe Waitrose’s new coffee service is not only a smart move to bring more customers in-store, but also encapsulates the changes in coffee drinking behaviour over recent years.
While instant coffee still dominates UK coffee drinking, the demand for ‘gourmet’ coffee continues its meteoric rise. Within the last decade, a whole new category of in-home coffee systems using fresh coffee in pods and sachet packs to dispense a superior cup has appeared. Consumers are now seeking out the perfect coffee beans and a snobbery not dissimilar to that associated with the wine industry has developed, with the Grand Cru of the day being pure origin beans rather than blends.
There is an opportunity for the industry to capitalise on the hype that surrounds the myriad coffees. It will be interesting to see how the public reacts to the Waitrose service, but I would say it’s a wise move - so long as the coffee is well chosen.
Tania Page, Harris Interactive UK