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Serving Up Plenty To Drink About

Monday March 3rd, 2014 - 5:28PM

Ambiente exhibition halls were buzzing, or more appropriately fizzing, in Frankfurt last month about Coca-Cola’s $1.3 billion investment in Green Mountain Coffee Roasters. 

The move (foreshadowed by the December 2012 appointment of former Coke executive Brian Kelley to the Green Mountain CEO post) is a precursor to a collaboration that will align the forthcoming Keurig Cold beverage system with flavors under Coca-Cola’s formidable lineup of beverage brands.

Big Business

It raises a number of questions:

Is this just the beginning of Coca-Cola’s plan to acquire Green Mountain outright?

Does it stoke the urgency for SodaStream, the undisputed driver and leader of the home soda maker market, and Pepsi Co. to counterpunch with a similar engagement?

Probably yes to both.

The home carbonation market, successfully built and promoted as the anti-Coke-and-Pepsi, is a big business the big soda brands no longer can afford to ignore. So, they’re claiming their stake, to the likely disadvantage of soda maker entrants looking to ride the wave without an affiliation with well-known beverage brands.

Coca-Cola’s 10% stake in Green Mountain further confirms the evolution of Keurig from a coffee pure-player into a full-scale resource for a considerably broader home beverage market.

Meanwhile, it is yet another sign that home beverage is poised to continue as one of the most compelling and productive segments in the housewares industry. 

Soda. Coffee. Tea. Juice. Water. Wine. Cocktails. Smoothies. Protein Shakes.

Appliances and accessories that cater to these drinks and others have earned dedicated retail spotlights. But to market and merchandise such products in the vacuum of narrow trends could miss the bigger, sustainable opportunity that intersects at a broader lifestyle beverage strategy.

One of the more remarkable growth stories in recent years, for example, has come from on-the-go-beverageware— not long ago the king of promotional giveaways and now one of the hottest outlets for product and marketing innovation. The latest generation of these products have been developed and positioned deftly as lifestyle accessories, not just travel drinkware.

Ambiente wasn’t just bubbling from news of Coca-Cola’s Green Mountain Coffee/Keurig investment. Buyers drank up the latest round of home beverage-related products. It was an opening act for more of the same at the International Home + Housewares Show this month in Chicago.

Brimming Opportunity

Retailers will see more coffee makers; more wine and cocktail accessories; more soda makers; more juicers; more smoothie makers; more hydration bottles; more beverage infusers; and more and more and more.

Each introduction should be measured on its own merit. The opportunity is brimming, however, to coordinate these categories into even more compelling, lifestyle-fueled home beverage presentations.

Thirsty?

—peter Giannetti