Challenge: When DervalResearch started working with Patricia Hartley, Vice President Single Serve at Sara Lee, the leading coffee brand was facing some criticism: the popular brand should make stronger Senseo coffee, a bit like Nespresso, just booming at that time.
Scientific Research: We analyzed the sensory profile of Sara Lee target consumers and found out that they were mainly medium to super tasters, sensitive to bitterness. Sara Lee 100% Arabica coffee, mild roasting process, and pod structure letting only the best of the coffee go through were therefore the right sensory mix for their mainstream consumers. The negative feedback was actually coming from people with fewer taste buds, not really in the target for Senseo. We also identified that purchasing a single-serve machine could generate discussions within some households. Consumers with fewer taste buds are often attracted by a machine making dark roast coffee like Nespresso. Their spouse then mitigates the bitterness with added hot water, sugar or milk.
Results: Sara Lee did the right strategic move: in the past decade, Nespresso sold 8 million single-serve machines and Senseo 27 million! Sara Lee also decided to propose an alternative to existing Nespresso users sensitive to bitterness: L’Or Espresso pods that have the popular Sara Lee taste and are compatible with the Nespresso machine. Within 8 months, SaraLee sold over 100 millions L’Or Espresso pods just for France.