Immersion in the world of the coffee consumer

Last year we got a brief from D. E Master Blenders 1753 (an international coffee and tea company) for a challenging research project. D. E Master Blenders 1753, the ambitious company that they are, wanted a complete immersion in the world of the 21st century coffee consumer.

What did we do?

Given the client’s need of a full understanding of the 21st century coffee consumers and their product portfolio that contains several different coffee brands including Douwe Egberts, Douwe Egberts Black, Douwe Egberts L’Or Espresso, Senseo, Jacqmotte and Chat Noir, we needed a research method that would provide us with the necessary depth and longevity. The only research tool powerful enough for this was an online research community. Together with 150 coffee lovers we embarked on an intensive 3 month journey in the world of coffee.
Amongst other techniques, we used online mood boards to assess the perception of the different D. E Master Blenders 1753 brands. Through a variety of projective techniques, we went even more in depth in the brand perception and its mental representation in the mind of the coffee consumer. We used deprivation techniques and diary exercises to gain insights into how coffee is consumed and experienced. We gave our coffee lovers assignments such as mystery shopper and Coffee reporter where they reported back to us with pictures they had taken and explained to us the outcome of their assignment. To further improve our understanding of how people shop for coffee we had send them on a coffee safari at their local super market. Charged with the mission to challenge the super market on their coffee aisle and observe other coffee shoppers, our coffee lovers set out on their trip armed with their mobile phone camera and keen observation skills. We used quantitative plug-ins such as a grouping exercise to learn how the world of coffee brands is segmented. We also provided our coffee consumers with rich sensory experiences, where they had the chance to taste new coffee blends and select which ones should be launched on the market. Finally, we co-created a campaign for Douwe Egberts, where in the first phase this campaign was evaluated by the consumers. The results of this phase were used by the marketing team of D. E Master Blenders 1753 to improve the campaign. In the second phase, the D. E Master blenders 1753 team came back with a renewed proposal of the campaign for the consumers. In this second phase they helped the D. E Master blenders 1753 team to fine tune the campaign and gave their final judgment on the campaign.

What was the result?

The result of the three-month immersion was an immense amount of data covering different business objectives. From a customer-centric perspective we wanted to bring consumers into the company and let their voice be heard. The goal was to make everybody at the company think “What would the community say?” This was achieved in different ways:

  • Frequent short and digestible reports were used to be disseminated throughout the company to make sure the research had an impact on every business unit.
  • With intensive immersion days, the brand managers and market research managers were immersed in the world of the consumer and confronted with the reality of the coffee lover.
  • In a final workshop with the general management, where a condensed report served as input for brainstorms, more strategic goals were defined and tested.

This allowed D. E Master blenders 1753 to better focus its daily marketing activities as well as shape its strategic vision for the future. Fueled with concrete knowledge about the dynamic consumption behavior of coffee consumers and their perception and experiences of the myriad coffee varieties, D. E Master blenders 1753 is ready to re-orient its portfolio to serve even better the different needs of coffee lovers.
Want to learn more about our Research Communities? Check our website for more client cases or get in touch with our Head of Research Communities: Tom De Ruyck.

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