With more than 1 million cups of coffee served using its revolutionary single-cup office brewers, Keurig knew people enjoyed its products.
But for the launch of its B50 Gourmet Single-Cup Brewing System, that recognition had to be brought home from the workplace.
The company's home version of the brewer had been made available on its website the year before, when single-cup home brewers were first being introduced to the market. Now that people were familiar with the idea, several larger companies were preparing to launch their own versions in retail chains, and Keurig wanted a piece of the market it had helped to create.
While many of the others had larger ad budgets and more inexpensive brewers, Keurig was sure that the superior innovation behind its design set the product apart as the "Cadillac" of single-cup brewers. Looking to use its momentum to establish its position as the premium- quality leader, Keurig asked the Ruder Finn Marketing Practice for help.
"We had to let them know that Keurig was a force in terms of developing this technology," says Tony Mangle, VP at RF Marketing Practice.
RF knew the exceptional quality of the product would speak for itself, so it chose to bypass the typical press release campaign, choosing instead to get up close and personal with the editors and producers that influenced the upscale market Keurig was targeting.
The other companies had already taken care of conveying the convenience message of single-cup brewers, meaning that RF could immediately start with gourmet positioning and focus on the B50's value in the gift market during the upcoming holiday season.
"We were a small company going against some really large players that we knew would get a lot of coverage based on their muscle," says Dave Manly, VP, marketing, Keurig. "Our goal was to include Keurig in all that coverage, positioned as the most upstart premium system of all."
Recognizing that the brewer made an excellent registry addition for soon-to-be newlyweds, RF did outreach with the bridal market, partnering with New England Bride to be featured in its bridal shows and on its website.
The firm also sent more than 100 brewers to key people at trade and consumer magazines, arranging for desk-side briefings and taste tests that highlighted the benefits of Keurig's technology over the other brands'. By punctuating the gourmet message with a delicious demonstration, RF hoped the magazines' spokespeople would be inclined to mention the product during talk-show appearances.
"It was vital we convey the quality message," says Mangle. "We knew we had a winner."
Within three months, more than 18,000 brewers were sold, even outselling the bigger brands of coffee-makers at some retailers.
The B50 garnered coverage in dozens of magazines, such as Good Housekeeping and Reader's Digest, and appeared on national TV programs, such as CBS' The Early Show, as well as on local networks. Copley News Service featured a story on the appeal for brides, and the brewer even appeared as a prize in gift bags for the Golden Globes.
In all, more than 50 of the initial pitches were received, which channeled into more than 45 million media impressions.
Now that the media have seen the benefits of its brewers, Keurig plans to start lavishing attention on its consumers. With RF's help, it's looking to educate consumers on the more refined aspects of the B50, such as its wide variety of flavors, thanks to its partnership with upscale roasters, such as Green Mountain.
PR team: Keurig (Wakefield, MA) and Ruder Finn Marketing Practice (New York)
Campaign: Launch of the Keurig Gourmet Single-Cup Home Brewing System
Time frame: September 2004 to April 2005