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Coffee market: Nespresso’s huge green marketing coup



On the windows of the Nespresso stores was affixed a large circled B, accompanied by the slogan “Happy to be B Corp”. A new communication campaign focused on obtaining, last April, a label which guarantees compliance with the best standards of social and environmental impact (see box). The Nestlé subsidiary displays its pride after three years of efforts to meet the certification requirements. “This demonstrates the seriousness of the approach, it is not greenwashing”, greets Elisabeth Laville, from the Utopies firm, author of La Révolution B Corp (ed. Pearson)… while the accusation was made by environmental NGOs . This advertising orchestrated around a label still little known to the public is above all a marketing strategy: Nespresso intends to highlight its social and environmental commitments to retain and win back its customers. “It’s about beefing up the subject with a label, to stay at the forefront”, deciphers Maxime Briquet, analyst at the Kantar Institute.

Because the Nespresso success story has some failures. Thirty years ago, by inventing capsules and positioning inspired by luxury – premium prices and sales via its own network of chic boutiques – Nestlé revolutionized the coffee market. And made the brand its flagship. Unquenchable growth, insolent margins, image of innovation and good taste: “What else?” George Clooney would say. But after having been in virtual monopoly, the battle has been raging for ten years since its last patents fell into the public domain.

Tough competition

And particularly in France, where pods are all the rage: ahead of soluble or ground coffee, they represent half of the home consumption market, which weighs nearly 3 billion euros, according to Kantar. Senseo, L’Or, Carte Noire, Lavazza… His rivals rushed to copy the concept, launching their machines and cheaper capsules – including compatible with his system – which flooded supermarkets. Nespresso’s market share has eroded. The brand does not reveal any figures for France, but it would now only weigh 8% (in value) of the capsule segment.

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