During my last trip to Holland, I bought a Senseo coffee machine for the Spill Group Asia office in Shanghai. Senseo machines make one or two cups of coffee, with a small layer of creamy foam on top. It basically gives people the possibility to make a cup of coffee at home, like they would get in a restaurant. It’s easy and quick, but the product was not for sale in China, so I had to import one in my suitcase for the office.
Because Senseo machines are priced quite low, they penetrated the market quickly in Holland (they were introduced there five years ago). The machines, produced by Philips together with coffee brand DE, are now being sold in many European countries, and even in the US and Australia. And the next country on the list is China, according to the daily email bulletin that I get from Radio Nederland Wereldomroep. And even better, the first city they will start selling the products is Shanghai! This means that I do not have to rely on Senseo pad shipments from Spill Group in Holland, but we can buy our own supplies.
Will the product be successful in China? I think it could be (Fons Tuinstra seems to disagree I just read). The timing is right: many young people in cities drink coffee nowadays, that has quickly changed over the past couple of years. Starbucks has surely made coffee more popular, in the beginning because of the status it gives you to go there (it’s as expensive as the rest of the world, so if you can afford to go there it implies you must be ‘rich’), but now also because people like coffee. But most people only drink one or two cups at home or in the office, not more than that. For that purpose the Senseo is a good product.
I think Philips should focus on the Chinese corporate market first for this product. Let white collar workers try out the product in the office, then they might also buy one for use at home. But I hope the price of the pads will be adjusted to Chinese standards. Not sure if a Chinese is willing to pay so much money for a cup of coffee, without other people seeing that they spend this money (like at Starbucks).