But it was the coffeemaker, not the coffee, getting much of the attention. Consumers who sign up for Gevalia get a free $40 Melitta coffee maker, even if they cancel after the first shipment, leading to some high upfront costs. Ads focused largely on the premium.
Under Bridgette Heller, 36, VP-general manager for Gevalia, the brand overhauled marketing last year with new print ads by FCB Direct, New York, focusing more on the Gevalia brand and quality while downplaying the coffeemaker.
The result: Gevalia continued double-digit growth rates, Ms. Heller says, even as overall gourmet coffee sales growth has cooled to about 7% annually and coffee-aisle rival Procter & Gamble Co. makes inroads with its Millstone supermarket gourmet brand.
Gevalia also has spawned line extensions, adding the European Coffeehouse Collection in 1996 and Gevalia tea in 1997, the latter of which quickly has grown to 10% of Gevalia's business.
Ms. Heller, who came to Kraft in 1985 after earning an MBA at Northwestern University and worked in a variety of brand marketing jobs before taking over Gevalia in 1996.
"When you combine the strength of Gevalia with the Maxwell House power mark," Ms. Heller says, "it really gives Kraft undisputed leadership within the coffee category."