Innovation stories

The Success of the Coffee Capsules: Find the Route that Brings the Customer to You

Often, good ideas take time to become great 
products and conquer the market. It takes a lot of persistence, conviction and an excellent marketing strategy. This is what Eric Favre thought back in 1976 when, following his instinct and passion for good coffee, he embarked on his innovation journey and since then has continuously investigated the best route to market. Whilst still working at Nestlé, Favre came up with his formula for excellent espresso: a combination of oxygen pressure mixed with packed coffee to extract all the aroma and taste, which he further developed into the coffee capsule and machine concept (Global Coffee Review, 2011). It took ten years of hard work, experimentation, persuasion and internal marketing at Nestlé for his concept to go to large scale production and hit the market under the name of Nespresso, the coffee company for which Favre became the General Director. According to Favre, the main factor that determined the coffee capsule’s success was the choice to target women as the driving force behind bringing the espresso culture out of the traditional bar and into the home. At a conference speech in 2008, Favre stated that in order to sell a product you do not need to adapt to the customer; instead, you have to find the route that brings the customer to you (Favre, 2008). Since the initial breakthrough, Favre’s coffee capsule has undergone a series of progressive improvements to attract a larger, environment-conscious audience. Favre has never ceased to work on his invention in order to make it more sustainable and ecologically-friendly (Grimard, 2012), starting from the 1991 capsule design that led to the creation of Favre’s Monodor company, up to the 2009 extremely eco-friendly capsules of Mocoffee. As Favre says, quoting his own father, “an engineer who invents something but doesn’t know how to sell it is useless” (Global Coffee Review, 2011, p. 11).

Originally published in
Coaching for Innovation – Tools and Techniques for Encouraging New Ideas in the Workplace
2014, Palgrave Macmillan