Keurig: A case study in brand focus

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

9 January 2015

Keurig: A case study in brand focus

Keurig is on the move

Get ready. Keurig will be transforming the soda industry the same way it did with coffee.

Keurig, which introduced the K-cup single-server coffee pod years ago, has inked a deal with the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group to do the same for sodas. That’s right, you’ll be able to make your own soda just like you now make your own coffee.

It’s seems impossible to catch on, but that’s what people said about the K-cups, which introduced unparalleled convenience along with a fresh cup. In the case of sodas, Keurig is expected to unveil a cold brewing system later this year, and this agreement sets the stage for another revolution.


This seems to be response to Keurig’s losing the patent on K-cups back in 2002, along with its coffee machines now being duplicated.

Keurig was the supreme example of a brand that was first to market and held that position by defending its brand. But competition has grown stiffer since the patent ran out, meaning Keurig felt vulnerable and was looking for other areas of growth.

To my mind, however, Keurig isn’t in the danger some think it might be.

“It’s positioned against the market (coffee shops), aligns itself with a consumer value currently in the market.”

Keurig single-cup system

It still dominates the one-cup coffee industry because it has a brand focus, vocalized by its mission statement: “We take a fresh approach to beverage-making, passionately believing all consumers deserve to drink for themselves.

Now, mission statements tend to be bland at most companies, meaning everyone ignores them and they just make execs, HR and internal communications feel good about themselves. They are usually ineffective in giving companies guidance.

But this one is actually a brand promise: “…believe consumers deserve to drink for themselves.” That’s a powerful statement and it gives Keurig the focus it needs to stay on task.

It’s positioned against the market (coffee shops), aligns itself with a consumer value currently in the market (consumer is in control) and Keurig has the ability to fulfill that wanted value.

That’s why its movement into the soda market will, I think, be a success. It has brand permission to play in this market in this way, which will make the new systems credible to consumers.

Keurig understands that if you have a singular focus as a brand, it will drive everything you do, including any innovation or initiatives into new markets. Other companies should take heed.


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