Cover Story: Flush With Green
It's been an eventful couple of years for cross-channel specialty coffee retailer Green Mountain Coffee Roasters (GMCR). From acquisitions (three in the last 18 months) to the launch of a B-to-B wholesale website, GMCR has been busy growing its 29-year-old brand. The hard work is paying off. GMCR posted net sales of $803 million last year, up 61 percent from 2008. And this year is proving no different, with the first nine months of GMCR's fiscal year 2010 having produced a net sales growth of 70 percent vs. the same period for fiscal year 2009. In fact, the coffee retailer has now achieved 11 consecutive quarters of better than 40 percent net sales growth.
Impressive stuff considering GMCR's humble beginnings: Company founder Bob Stiller started GMCR in 1981 after being served a great cup of coffee at a small town Vermont coffee shop. He enjoyed it so much he decided to buy into the shop. And so GMCR was born. Although still true to its Vermont roots — the company is headquartered in Waterbury — much has changed from the early days of GMCR. Today the company sells via two e-commerce sites (B-to-C and wholesale), a catalog and retail partners. It no longer operates its own brick-and-mortar locations, however.
Also, GMCR is divided into two business units: the Specialty Coffee unit, which sells coffee, tea and hot cocoa from its family of brands, including Tully's Coffee, Green Mountain Coffee, Newman's Own Organics coffee, Timothy's World Coffee, Diedrich Coffee, Coffee People and Gloria Jean's Coffee; and the Keurig business unit, a manufacturer of gourmet single-cup brewing systems, which serve a variety of the Specialty Coffee unit's roasts.
A recurring challenge for cross-channel retailers is maintaining a consistent marketing/branding message across all channels it interacts with consumers. GMCR is no different. The company involves its in-house creative team in every project, no matter the channel. And GMCR frequently provides support for its in-house teams by partnering with a wide array of vendors.
"Our marketing efforts are designed to maximize both adoption and use of the Keurig single-cup system," says Suzanne DuLong, vice president of investor relations and corporate communications for GMCR. "Both the Keurig system and the brands within it work across all the channels of distribution that reach where our customers buy and consume coffee and related beverages."
For the Keurig brand, that consistency comes from brewing a cup of coffee in less than a minute with no mess or cleanup, says Dave Manly, Keurig's vice president and general manager for its Away From Home and Consumer Direct divisions. "While the brewers differ, they all deliver the same cup of coffee thanks to our brewing technology and proprietary K-cup that comes in over 200 varieties from over a dozen coffee and tea brands," he added.