Nestle gives Mate update in new package, ad effort

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Nestle USA will relaunch its powdered Carnation Coffee-Mate with new packaging next month, a plan to reformulate in 2001 and an estimated $20 million in media spending to back the efforts.

Coffee-Mate, one of the primary profit-drivers of Nestle's beverage business, has been faring just fine, even growing at a clip of 4% for the 52 weeks ended Aug. 13, according to Information Resources Inc. But as the emphasis has shifted from powdered creamers to refrigerated varieties, Nestle hopes to re-energize its $150 million-plus powdered business by making the shelf-stable Coffee-Mate better, more convenient and top-of-mind with consumers through product improvements and increased advertising support.

`USER-FRIENDLY CONTAINER'

Nestle begins the relaunch effort with the rollout Oct. 28 of new easy-to-grip plastic containers for Coffee-Mate that feature pourable spouts, alleviating the need to unscrew the lid and spoon out the creamer.

"The [powdered creamer] category just seems to plug along, but a user-friendly container might help consumers see the product in a new light," said one Midwest grocery executive.

The updated, more convenient packaging will be touted with extensive media support, including national TV spots Jan. 7 through Feb. 4, print ads Jan. 28 through March 18 and inserts dropped in newspapers Jan. 7 to 40 million households offering coupons worth 55›.

The ads, from McCann-Erickson Worldwide, Los Angeles, will likely mirror the theme featured in the newspaper insert, which reads, "Easy to open, easy to pour, easy to enjoy." In-store floor graphics will also tout the new packaging in 15,000 stores nationwide.

"Carnation Coffee-Mate has always been the innovator and renovator in the coffee creamer category, with every effort from packets to Coffee-Mate Lite growing the category," said an executive close to the company. "With the new packaging, Nestle wants to again stand out and be differentiated from the other `me too' products."

Although Nestle spent $14.5 million on Coffee-Mate in 1999, according to Competitive Media Reporting, $12.8 million of that was put toward the liquid version of its non-dairy creamer. The new, expanded campaign promoting improved powdered Coffee-Mate is intended to give that piece of the business "a good shot in the arm," said an executive close to the company.

MAJOR CAMPAIGN PLANNED

In addition to the packaging changes, Nestle plans to reformulate the line in May, an improvement that will also be supported with an extensive media effort from McCann.

Nestle had a 50% share of the $314 million shelf-stable coffee creamer category for the 52 weeks ended Aug. 13, with sales for Coffee-Mate totaling $156 million. Private label has a 37% share with $116 million in sales and Borden Foods Corp. has a 9.5% share for its Cremora brand, which dropped 2.1% to $30 million for the same period.

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