Late last year Keurig made the very conscious and profit-oriented decision to block all types of coffee pod other than it’s own branded and approved pods from working in it’s new line of ‘2.0’ machines.
They do this by using a special ink technology on the pods (or ‘K-cups’), which is scanned by the coffee machine before it begins to pour. If you use any kind of non-inked pod, then the LED display just says ‘Ooops’ and the machine refuses to make your coffee.
Effectively it’s the same kind of ‘Digital Rights Management’ that is used in the entertainment industry – particularly gaming – and just like in that world, Keurig’s attempts have gone down like a lead balloon amongst coffee lovers.
No one likes to be told what kind of coffee they can and can’t make, which has led – especially in the US where Keurig does most of their business – to a big drop in sales over the last quarter.
During an earnings call this week it was announced that sales of Keurig machines fell 12% last quarter. CEO Brian Kelley said:
“Quite simply our 2.0 launch got off to a slower start than we planned”, and went on to explain that the company’s delay in getting cups/pods compatible with the new 2.0 scanning system into retail outlets had caused “confusion among consumers as to whether the 2.0 would still brew all of their favorite brands.”
Consumers are not happy!
You don’t have to look far to see the damage this has been doing to Keurig’s business and the brand of their parent company Green Mountain Coffee – who have grown from strength to strength over the past few years on the back of well-received and useful coffee pod machines.
The consumer reviews on Amazon are particularly damning, just take a look at these reviews for the Keurig K550 2.0 Brewer:
Now that kind of thing can’t be making the people at Keurig happy!
Where have Keurig gone wrong?
Keurig have suffered such a backlash following their decision to ‘lock’ their pod machines for one very simple reason. Coffee drinkers use pod machines because of the great variation and diversity they offer – in other words the customer has a lot of control over what they drink and when.
All pod machines come with the ability to make a variation of different types of coffee (and tea) in lots of different flavours. A lot of them also allow consumers to re-use and recycle old pods and cups, which again puts a lot of control in the hands of the consumer.
Either Keurig completely forgot about this aspect of coffee podding, or they decided they wanted to take back the control and lock customers into using their machines in the way Keurig wants them to be used. Whatever the reason, it’s clear now that Keurig made the wrong decision and are now suffering for it!