Keurig Green Mountain, which has changed the way consumers enjoy coffee and tea over the last decade through its single-serve, pod-based home brewing systems, is turning its attention to chilled beverages this week with the launch of its Keurig® KOLD™ drinkmaking system.
The countertop appliance, developed through a global strategic partnership with TheCoca-Cola Company, lets consumers produce a variety of sparkling and still beverages in about 90 seconds with a single push of a button. Keurig KOLD beverages are perfectly carbonated, chilled and dispensed in fresh 8-oz. servings at the ideal temperature – all without a CO2 canister.
“We believe Keurig KOLD has a place in many homes,” said Brian Kelley, president and CEO, Keurig Green Mountain. “Our research shows consumers want access to a variety of cold, fresh-made beverages at their fingertips, and this system delivers an on-demand playlist of both iconic brands and exclusive drinks you can only discover through our system.”
Keurig KOLD is now available to order on Keurig.com. In October, the appliance will be sold at select retailers online and in six cities: Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles and New York.
Keurig KOLD initially will feature a variety of beverage brands, including Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Coke Zero, Sprite and Fanta. Within a few months, Coca-Cola Life, Gold Peak tea and vitaminwater XXX will join the roster, and more brands in multiple categories including sparkling, tea, energy, mixers, enhanced waters and sports drinks will be added in the future. Specific brands will be announced at a later date.
The platform will give Keurig a play in more beverage categories, day parts and consumption occasions. “KOLD extends our reach from the morning day part to an all-day, all-night appliance,” said Kelley, who noted that, the cold nonalcoholic beverage category is five times larger than the hot drink market, according to IRI.
While the average household only includes one coffee drinker, “everyone drinks cold beverages,” Kelley said. “Keurig KOLD broadens our appeal to more households with everything from iced teas and craft sodas, to sports drinks and cocktail mixers,” he added.
In February 2014, The Coca-Cola Company and Keurig signed an agreement to collaborate on the development and launch of Coke’s global brand portfolio for use in the Keurig KOLD system. As part of that deal, Coca-Cola acquired a 10 percent minority equity position in Keurig and subsequently boosted its stake to 16 percent, becoming the personal beverage system company’s largest shareowner.
“From the beginning, we knew we wanted to lean on each other’s core expertise,” Kelley said. “Ours is in the technology behind our machines and pods, and Coke’s is in understanding syrup, carbonation, the impact of packaging on taste and everything else that goes into the consistent production of great-tasting beverages.”
Deryck van Rensburg, the Coke executive overseeing the Keurig partnership, said the alliance supports growing consumer demand for beverage variety and innovation.
“By pairing our brand leadership and global footprint with Keurig’s cutting-edge technology and beverage system expertise, together we will capitalize on the growth opportunities we see in the single-serve, pod-based segment of the cold beverage business,” he said. “Keurig KOLD is a breakthrough innovation that will enable people to enjoy our brands in a convenient new way and capture incremental consumption occasions for our business. We look forward to being in the front seat with Keurig, learning with them and contributing to the potential.”
5 YEARS IN THE MAKING
Keurig’s engineers spent the last five years developing the proprietary KOLD system, which includes more than 50 technology patents and another 100 patent-pending applications. Each pod is designed to deliver a specific beverage’s optimal levels of syrup and carbonation. Keurig KOLD’s self-contained, on-demand cooling system uses an aerospace-inspired thermal transfer system to rapidly cool beverages to the refrigerator-equivalent temperature of approximately 39 degrees Fahrenheit. Karbonator beads contained within the pod hold and release beverage-grade CO2 into the KOLD chiller, adding carbonation.
“This combination allows us to produce the perfect drink every time,” said Tara Murphy, senior VP and GM, Keurig KOLD platform. “With this machine, a consumer can insert an ambient pod, press a button and make a cold carbonated beverage in a little over a minute.”
Coke’s R&D team worked to ensure the brands offered on the Keurig platform meet the same high quality standards and great taste that they do in a bottle or can, or from a fountain dispenser. Murphy said her team enjoyed watching consumers react to the taste of a Coke made on a Keurig KOLD machine during initial focus groups.
“There’s a real ‘wow’ factor that comes with experiencing a Coca-Cola you’ve just made at home and realizing it’s the real thing,” she said.
Social media, digital marketing and targeted PR will drive consumers to Keurig.com and in-store sampling events. “Maintaining an effective ground game will ensure consumers are experiencing the system and tasting the beverages for themselves – which will expand our installed base,” Murphy said.
Early adopters will be those who embrace new technology and frequently entertain guests at home. Owners of Keurig hot brewers are prime prospects for Keurig KOLD “because they’ve already bought into the single-serve format,” Murphy said.
Van Rensburg added, “But this is much more than a drinkmaking appliance… we see it as a consumer engagement platform with unlimited potential.”