Taking a seat at the Nespresso Boutique which fronts the company’s headquarters in Paudex, LausanneSwitzerland, it is clear that this is an organization which takes the pursuit of excellence seriously. Before employees enter the head office they must first walk through the boutique where customers go about trying, tasting and testing the range of Nespresso products. It’s all part of the Nespresso creed that every employee must live the brand; see it from a customer’s point of view.
Nespresso has done much to establish itself in the marketplace since first releasing its coffee capsule technology. The company’s high profile advertising campaign with Hollywood star George Clooney has given the brand a suave and sophisticated face. The challenge now is to turn Nespresso from a high profile company into a brand icon. In this drive, the company is working to position Nespresso as more than just a cup of the world’s best coffee. It is a premium experience. A lifestyle choice. It is for people who recognize quality and want the best of the best. With Nespresso, coffee has become a luxury brand.
We met H.-Joachim Richter, Director of Corporate Communications and Olivier Quillet, International Marketing Director over a cup of Nespresso.
The Nespresso Trilogy
Joachim, “Nespresso is not just a coffee it is a trilogy of perfectly portioned highest quality Grand Cru coffee, smart and easy to use machines and the Nespresso Club with personalized services. It’s a unique business model which works to ensure a premium experience for customers in all their interactions with Nespresso: from being exposed to the product through advertising, to buying Nespresso products, to making a cup of coffee and, of course, to finally drinking it.”
The trilogy is a dedication to quality in everything Nespresso does. The first part concerns the beans. Only the best beans make the Nespresso Grand Cru blend. The in-factory quality management process is rigorous – every single bag is individually inspected for quality, blend, appearance and aroma. Joachim, “Buying Nespresso Grands Crus capsules, coffee lovers know they are going to get the perfect cup of coffee every time.”
The trilogy’s second major pillar is the Nespresso range of coffee makers. The smartly designed and easy-to-use Nespresso machines are specifically developed to complement and enhance the aroma, crema and flavour of Nespresso coffee – creating the perfect cup every time. The coffee capsule – each perfectly encapsulating hundreds of delicate aromas and flavours – is at the heart of every Nespresso coffee machine. As Olivier points out, “Reinventing coffee and Espresso machine design – inside and out – has become Nespresso’s trademark. Our machines have become the must-have design accessory for any kitchen, living area or home office.” The key themes for designers are the integration of function and form and the combination of simplicity and style. The design and development of coffee capsules and machines was inspired by the idea to offer the same high-quality Espresso created by baristas in the best Italian coffee bars directly to consumers in their homes.
The third component of the company’s trilogy is personalized service. Nespresso has again worked to create an exclusive relationship between itself and its customers by creating special distribution channels for its products. In this way the company interacts with consumers to guarantee a high end service. Nespresso sells its coffee capsules via three avenues: its website, dedicated Nespresso boutiques and through the Nespresso Customer Club where members can place orders online or through a 24/7 phone line. In all forums, the company strives for an individually tailored service. Instead of simply serving as a forum where customers can place their orders, the Nespresso website keeps a record of individual customer purchasing habits and uses this information to provide feedback and recommendations on different blends which match the customer’s tastes. Indeed, the company views its website as an online boutique and the stylish art direction, rich and earthy colours, relaxing music and interactive display exude sophistication and style. The site has become the bulkhead in the Nespresso branding push. Visitors to the site increased by 33 percent last year, peaking at an amazing 24 million. The site presently accounts for around 48 percent of all Nespresso sales, making it the main bridge linking consumers with the company.
Emotionalise the brand
That’s not to say Nespresso does not have a physical home. The company continues to roll out its line of Nespresso boutiques, giving customers a hands-on experience of the Nespresso identity. The idea of the stores is to make the brand more present in consumers’ lives, allowing them to touch, smell, see and try Nespresso products in an environment which best symbolizes what the company stands for. The boutiques often serve as the first point of contact between a potential customer and Nespresso, so the company has gone to great trouble to ensure the sites represent the Nespresso lifestyle; sophisticated and understated.
Nespresso boutiques follow three blueprints: in-store boutiques which are rented spaces in high end department stores; stand alone boutiques in key street locations and flagship stores located in the world’s most fashionable shopping districts, establishing Nespresso as a super premium brand.
Joachim, “By the end of 2008, we plan to have established 175 boutiques around the globe. All will help to build brand visibility and “emotionalise” the brand-consumer experience.”
The Nespresso Club rounds out the company’s platform for engaging its customers and enhancing its personalized service. Customers who purchase a Nespresso coffee maker automatically become a club member. The club provides its members with around-the-clock information services, accessed via the internet or telephone, and guarantees delivery of Nespresso products within 48 hours. Club members also benefit from a door-to-door pick-up and return maintenance warranty covering their Nespresso machine should something go wrong (the company will even give you a machine while yours gets repaired). Olivier, “It’s the type of service consumers usually associate with high end luxury goods, further cementing Nespresso’s prestige.”
Members also receive the Nespresso magazine, a bi-annual “pleasure guide” for coffee lovers using journalists to tell the Nespresso story. Rather than focusing solely on coffee products, the magazine highlights the Nespresso lifestyle and issues of consumer interest, such as measures the company is taking to ensure its business model is green and environmentally sustainable. More than two million copies of the magazine are distributed around the globe in eight different languages.
The most recent move is the famous advertising campaign with ‘super premium brand’ actor George Clooney. The choice of Clooney fits the Nespresso character – successful, not always following the rules, doing your own thing and doing it in style. An icon is being born.
Green Coffee: The Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality Program
The green coffee beans Nespresso uses in its Grands Crus blends are some of the rarest in the world. What’s more, such beans are often grown by small scale farmers in some of the world’s more remote locations. To ensure a sustainable, beneficial and environmentally sound relationship between Nespresso and its valued coffee growers, the company launched the Nespresso AAA Sustainable Quality Program in 2003. With various partner organizations, the program works to ensure the long-term supply of the highest quality ‘green coffee’ through sustainable practices, economic viability, environmental stewardship and social equity to ensure that farmers benefit from their commitment to the highest quality.
Today, more than 35 percent of Nespresso beans come from the Sustainable Quality Program and the company has committed itself to increasing this to 50 percent by 2010. All at the company share a sense of pride and enthusiasm about the positive impact this initiative is already having on farmers and their communities around the world.
The program also acts as a powerful bridge in linking all stakeholders that participate in producing the perfect cup of coffee. What many people don’t realize is that many of the farmers don’t get to taste their coffee – it is made far away from where it was grown. In an effort to build relationships between everyone at the company – from small scale farmers to those who take their place at the boardroom – Nespresso often visits its valued coffee growers. One such visit saw company representatives call in on a tiny little place in Mexico where one of Nespresso’s Special Club limited editions is grown, Ixhuatlan. The people of the village were extremely proud to see that their town was associated with the company and known around the world for its great coffee. They were very amazed to see their coffee had been placed inside a capsule and delighted to finally be able to taste the finished product. Nespresso in the country of origin is also a valued brand, a brand people are proud to supply.