Business World

Hunka Hunka Burning Coffee

At the Coffee Fest show held this past June in Las Vegas, I was able to add on some time to do a little sightseeing. I took my family to a wax museum, and the Star Trek Experience, a restaurant and amusement ride based on the popular U.S. television show. Trying to herd the children away from the Star Trek souvenir shop, I noticed a private label coffee package with a Star Trek label on it. Its weight was marked as 1.45 oz. I shook my head….how could someone get a robust pot of coffee from that weight? Then it struck me: the retailer must realize this is a one-time sale and is offering as little coffee as possible for $4.00/pack. That’s $4.00 for less than 2 ounces of coffee!

My daughter wanted to buy the coffee for her father, a Star Trek fan. I wouldn’t let her. This just wasn’t a fair deal. Now, if that retailer had chosen to think this through, repeat sales would be possible. A good coffee, even a little over-priced, but with a label portraying a favorite TV show, singer, etc. could induce the consumer to purchase more of the same private label coffees. And their friends have their own friends with similar interests. They would think: “Wouldn’t it be a hoot to serve these coffees to fellow fans, or give it away as a gift?”

Then, in the wax museum, I spied some Elvis Presley coffee - and so I got a chuckle when our writer Suzanne Brown, in her article on private label featured this month on page 30 writes about private label wines with names like A King Cabernet Sauvignon, Jailhouse Red Merlot and Blue Suede Chardonnay, in honor of Elvis as well. Elvis Presley’s home in Memphis, Tennessee, is the second most toured house in the U.S., only preceded by the White House. Do they sell coffee there fit for the King?

Included in the speech of one of the speakers at Coffee Fest, Donald Harrell of Monin Syrups, were comments on private label and how consumers will buy anything to commememorate an event, such as a Superbowl. A Superbowl coffee would and did fly off the shelves at the Superbowl…and how many people attended that event? Web site information on the back of these packs can get consumers to repeat their purchase. . . but only if it’s a quality product.

According to the Private Label Manufacturers Association (PLMA), store brands account for one of every five items sold every day in the U.S, supermarkets, drug store chains and mass merchandisers. They represent more than $50 billion of current business at retail and are achieving new levels of growth every year.

If you want my take on this: coffee roasters and tea packers, tell your present and potential clients that they should demand quality coffee. There are unlimited opportunities in private label.

Jane McCabe
Editor & Co-Publisher

Tea & Coffee - August/September, 2004

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