Single-Serve Inspires Thermal Beverageware Design
Monday May 28th, 2012 - 11:44AM
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NEW YORK— Consumers are looking for the next-generation thermal beverageware solution on the market, as they are very familiar with travel mug assortments, vendors told HOMEWORLD BUSINESS®. They are seeking out thermal beverageware that has high performance in keeping their coffee or tea hot, they are looking for ease in use, i.e. one-handed operation and cleanable lids, and they are looking for products that meet the needs of their home brewing to commuting lifestyles. An important part of this lifestyle is brewing coffee from single-serve coffee and espresso machines into travel mugs and tumblers, to take that gourmet experience with them on the road.
The single-serve coffee machine market is hot, and that is having a correlation with thermal beverageware product introductions, with the brewing process of these machines making it easier for consumers to grab their coffee and go. Companies are also coming out with mugs and travel tumblers with a smaller profile or capacity to fit these machines and the amount of coffee they produce per serving.
“We have seen growth in the thermal beverageware category and we do see a direct correlation with the growth in the single-serve coffee machine market. There is a definite trend in consumers bringing their coffee from home to save money and they therefore need a vessel to do this with,” said Jessica Jabcon, senior marketing manager, Thermos. Thermos has marketing initiatives in the works to further call out on packaging which of its many to-go beverageware are compatible with the single-serve machines, she said.
Many machines brew a maximum of 12 ounces, said Colleen Kennedy, Aladdin product manager at Pacific Market International, and that capacity is starting to grow in popularity. Aladdin will be introducing a 12-ounce version of its Perfect Vacuum Insulated Mug later this year. While the staple 16-ounce capacity is not going away at retail, more companies are giving consumers the options of smaller sizes.
“The growth of single serve has had an impact on what consumers are looking for in their home hot beverage experience; they have created this gourmet coffee house experience at home and are looking for hot beverage solutions that can match that experience,” added PMI’s Kennedy.
“Coffee and tea is a wonderful indulgence for people on a daily basis. People have a pursuit of quality; they continue to want better coffee and tea, and what comes with that is better delivery systems, whether they are drinking at home… but we’re an increasingly mobile society,” noted Sami Elsaden, CEO of Ignite USA.
Retail Merchandising Trends
The advent of the single-serve coffee machine has also encouraged retailers to cross-merchandise both small electrics and thermal beverageware, to put together a story in the store about the coffee drinking experience, particularly called out on end caps, said Kennedy at PMI.
Another trend at retail is that buyers are seeking out a complete thermal program; it is not simply an item business. “Retailers are looking for a comprehensive assortment that includes thermal mugs, tumblers and bottles as well as hydration and food storage products, creating a one-stop shop for the guest,” said Thermos’ Jabcon.
Trudeau has created a thermal stainless steel vacuum program to meet this retail merchandising trend need, said Byron Stanger, senior product developer of the on-the-go category for the Trudeau Corporation. “Endure has a consistent design language that provides one look across five different functions. It is perfect for the retailer who can merchandise a program on the shelf that covers multiple functions with one product line. And it is perfect for the consumer who uses multiple functions and can now have that same quality design,” he added. Endure features a 16-ounce travel mug, 16-ounce tumbler, 16-ounce food container, 16-ounce desk mug, as well as a 2-liter carafe.
Stainless Steel Insulation
As more consumers are learning about the thermal category, they are looking for items with better quality of insulation, with emphasis on stainless steel double wall options, said suppliers.
“Many retail department managers state that one of the big requests in the past six months is for more stainless steel interior mugs. The consumer translates the stainless steel interior into higher quality, better heat retention and better value. They will pay more for a mug when it provides a longer term, more benefit quality,” said Trudeau’s Stanger, citing Nielsen and Gallup 2011 studies.
Trudeau took three popular body designs that had plastic interiors— Aura, Mirage and Payton— and changed them to a stainless steel interior and added an improved lid. Also this year, Trudeau introduced its Journey Stainless Steel Vacuum One Hand Operation Travel Mug.
“Consumers are seeking thermal beverageware options that will keep their coffee items at an enjoyable hot temperature for a longer period of time to get them through their morning commute, as well as into their morning at work,” added Thermos’ Jabcon.
However, many commuters that drive to work leave their travel mug in their vehicles as they enter the workplace and substitute it with a desktop mug, said suppliers. These mugs are a little wider at the bottom, as they do not have to fit into car cup holders, and with this wider base and it being narrower at the top, it makes it less easy to knock over during office duties.
“There is always going to be a part of the marketplace for a desktop mug. [Consumers] want something stationary. They will leave their travel mug in the car but have a mug at their desk that they can use. It is a growth area, in various materials as well, including glass, plastic and ceramic as well as stainless,” said Cool Gear’s president and CEO, Donna Roth.
Focus On Functionality
One of the product function trends in thermal beverageware is lids that are easier to clean, especially with foamed specialty coffee drinks, said PMI’s Kennedy. “Fully cleanable lids are really important, as consumers are brewing lattes and other gourmet style beverages at home,” she said. Vendors are coming out with options in which the consumer can take the lid apart and put it in the dishwasher, to better wash those nooks and crannies that are often hard to reach and clean.
Consumers are also looking for leak-proof closures, which is not only important to avoid spilling catastrophes on crisp white business shirts, but also because of the proliferation of expensive portable electronics, said Ignite’s Elsaden, with not only laptops but iPads, iPhones, eReaders, etc.
Contigo’s AutoSeal lid technology automatically seals between sips to protect against spills and leaks. The brand’s newest tumbler, Monroe, is a double-wall vacuum stainless steel mug that features this technology and also has a lock feature that prevents accidental actuation of the button. Monroe also has a 13-ounce capacity and is designed to fit most single-brewer machines. The company’s AutoSeal technology is also featured on its handled Randolph mugs, which are designed to fit into the user’s car cup holder, which many travel mugs on the market do not allow, according to Elsaden.
Tea drinkers also are looking for options in thermal beverageware, to bring their tea-time experience with them outside the home.
“There is a growing number of people, from younger to older, who want tea as an option, where four or five years ago, there wasn’t any request for that. We’re doing infusers for hot and cold [in our on-the-go beverageware],” said Roth.
Fashion also continues to be an important element in the category, as well as function, said vendors. “As consumers choose reusable beverageware products to bring with them from home, these products are becoming very personal statements of people’s individuality and style through colors, patterns and innovative designs,” said Thermos’ Jabcon.
Cool Gear’s Roth added that the company has done well with its printed line of coffee mugs, from desktop to travel, as consumers are more willing to choose items adorned with graphic patterns.
After decades of following consumers to the suburbs, retailers are plotting to get ahead of a growing segment of the population’s return to the cities.