Heritage coffee brand Bewley’s faced a challenge last year, when it rolled out premium self-serve coffee counters across forecourts and convenience stores across Ireland.
“Because of the cult of the barista, there is a degree of apology in design around making your own coffee,” said Steve Collis, managing director of design group JHP, which worked on the project.
Speaking at Retail Design Expo 2018, Collis told the audience that the counters needed to deliver a lot in a short period of time: “Our approach was to make it a slick, modern experience for the customer; a rich 60 seconds.”
Bewley’s is seeking a larger slice of the expanding coffee-to-go market. Convenience locations currently account for 20% of the out-of-home coffee market in Ireland, and are increasingly catering to today’s more sophisticated coffee drinker.
“We have found that the forecourt side of the business has changed from truck driver to busy working person,” said Bewley’s customer marketing manager Megan O’Donnell Fitzgerald. “The market has changed, but the counter was something we needed to change as a brand in order to satisfy the customer.”
A private company with operations in Ireland, the UK and the US, Bewley’s coffee was founded by Joshua Bewley in 1840. The business, which is adjusting its strategy to capitalise on the growing demand for premium coffee, recently made all of its coffee entirely Fairtrade in origin.
With heritage and a valuable reputation as Ireland’s roaster of coffee, Bewley’s did not want to water down its premium brand values when it took its first steps into the world of self-service. Working with JHP, its new in-store coffee unit launched last year, communicating the quality of the product and its premium brand values.
“We decided to sell the history of Bewley’s as you were making your coffee,” said Collis. “The design encompassed the colours of the brand, the iconic brand etching and the rich brass.”
The challenge was to bring the brand’s heritage into a self-serve counter. “We had begun with a dull, brown, very ordinary counter,” said O’Donnell Fitzgerald. “JHP came to us with the vision of enclosing the product, concealing the pipes and wires much like an integrated kitchen unit – the new unit was much more premium.”
Bewley’s research shows that one of the key need states for buying a coffee is “time out”- or customers treating themselves. The new modular coffee concessions were rolled out in customer journey-focused retail environments across the country, including forecourts, convenience stores and supermarkets.
“I think you can sell premium in all sorts of locations,” said Collis. “It was about giving that quality of materiality so that the customer felt special that they were buying a Bewley’s cup of coffee.”
The units were rolled out across Ireland from July 2017. Bewley’s saw sales growth in 2017 of 27% and attributes much of the success to the second half of the year, post-launch.