BUNN-O-Matic Corporation’s At Home division of personal brewers doesn’t have the market weight of their commercial line. “We are small in the at home retail products, we tell the truth here, we are about the smallest in the retail market but yet the most engaged,” BUNN Chief executive officer, Hy Bunn admits. Because of this, they are trying to build their influence in the market, not just to convince consumers to buy BUNN, but also to spread their commitment to improving the coffee chain.
In the last year, BUNN has begun to reinvent their At Home line. “Before we were in a maintenance mode, now we are trying to connect with consumers,” says director of marketing for At Home products Lisa McCloud. Building a relationship with retail consumers is key because they are the final link in the coffee chain, a link that BUNN believes should also be more united with coffee producers. But building this relationship is difficult if you don’t have a direct avenue to consumers, a problem evident in BUNN’s attempt to rebuild its At Home lines.
So far, BUNN has added two new products to its At Home line as well as update the original personal brewer, the Velocity Brew. In September 2010, the At Home division released their Phase Brew and by December began distributing the MyCafe.
Like the commercial products, BUNN’s At Home line is at the top of the price range for personal brewers. McCloud explains this is because, at BUNN, the brewers treat the coffee right. “Our personal brewers manage the science behind brewing when consumers don’t want to,” she says.
Communicating the importance of the brewer is one of the main objectives for McCloud. She wants to explain to those in the market for a personal coffee brewer why exactly the machine matters. From the machine, BUNN hopes they can expand their consumer education to other important aspects of coffee.
The redesigned website has been essential to this. It offers forums for customers to ask questions and file complaints, as well as a blog that shares interesting facts about coffee life.
Beyond educating consumers about BUNN’s machines, the website also includes a brief section titled ‘From Seed to Cup.’ “We start with why the brewer matters, but emphasize it is only part of the chain,” McCloud explains. From Seed to Cup is the next step in the information sharing process.
“There’s no education of consumers,” in the personal coffee brewer market according to McCloud. She is focused on figuring out how to engage consumers, not only with BUNN’s products, but also a related social initiative.
But as noble as BUNN’s goals may seem to be, there are limitations. “We have to keep in mind what the consumer wants,” McCloud explains. BUNN’s current At Home consumers are largely blue-collar workers, who drink Folgers and other non-specialty coffees. Specialty coffees that also focus on the Seed to Cup initiative only make up five percent of the coffee market, and are often too expensive for the average coffee drinker. Thus in order to encourage BUNN consumers to be interested in the lives of coffee producers and the coffee chain, BUNN is trying to create a brand personality of itself as a credible resource for coffee information.
The At Home website currently contains mainly information about how to brew coffee. This is the first step in engaging consumers with BUNN’s products and message. “It’s about creating the environment for the story [of coffee] to be told,” explains Vice President of Marketing Desiree Logsdon.
From there, BUNN will include more information on their packaging and provide consumers with the coffee facts that they will hopefully be asking for. McCloud reminds me that this will be a more long-term process, especially with the current economic environment.
“Right now need to engage with customers and get customers engaged with BUNN and throw in information about seed to cup where we can,” McCloud says.
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