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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).

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  1. hey marc, should I bring or send some senseo supply again???


  2. Good idea Rein! We still have some supplies left, but we might run out before Senseo pads become available in local supermarkets.

  3. maybe with the tea-pads they can gain some market. I don’t know how the teapads are doing in NL but the special holders you needed to buy were sold out in the 1st weeks they came on the market.
    I like the coffee of the senseo but the tea is also nice to drink. Can’t compete with the “pearl jasmine tea” you can buy in china but it is an easy and quick way of making a big cup of tea.

  4. Tea pads? I did not know that they have them, but that’s a MAJOR sales booster. They should make some for green teas as well then (or maybe they have them already?).

  5. I believe I saw a stand for these today at Suning Electronics in Zhongshan Park.

  6. Senseo from DE (and any other producer of this format which is better known and refered to as 62mm pads or pods) will be spreading to China and many more countries especially if it will be backed up from major multinationals such as Sara Lee. Until now the Senseo has only reached any kind of diffusion in Holland, Germany, England, The U.S.A and Canada and the U.K.

    Introduction in many countries is being held up by lack of cooperation from Philips, for example. I know of such thing being happening in Finland, where an Importer ( a well known coffee personality in the country) has been trying for years to buy the machines from Philips who doesn’t even bother answering his mails.

    I am the export manager of an Italian producer of such format coffee. We are trying to bank on the ” Italian” taste of our blends and we firmly believe this is the way forwad in all the countries which love ” Long” hot drinks.

    I think it is pointless to want to force the Chinese, for example, to like espresso if this is not in their culture or taste. One will be better off in this markets with Senseo (and clones) or Cappuccino makers.

    I am lookin for, by the way, chinese coffee machines which accept this format and do a good job of it.

    Some companies suc as the Portugese Briel produce a coffee maker which does both Senseo and Espresso pods. A winning combination, I find.

    If you buy senseo pads for tea you are better off buying a machine which has a tea program because to make good tea the pad requires pre-soaking (unnecessary ad even harmful for coffee!) otherwise the flow is too fast in the pad and extract too little of the aromas of tea.

  7. @Andre: thanks for your detailed comment. I was not even aware that there are ‘Senseo’ clones on the market. It’s amazing that Philips is not willing to expand its market to countries such as Finland.

    With regards to the tea making with pads, does your comment mean that the Senseo would not be suitable for this? What kind of machine would be best for this?

    I am not aware of any Chinese coffee machines that can support the Senseo pads, but in case the Senseo is a success here you will see copies flooding the market soon. Quality is another question of course.