Can Nespresso’s New Stores Successfully Promote Sustainability?

This month Nespresso will unveil its new retail concept stores, designed to help customers gain a more intimate understanding of the products it offers and its sustainability measures – but does this stack up to the reality?

You may be familiar with coffee brand Nespresso, what with poster boy George Clooney as the face of it sipping Nespresso espressos in exotic places around the world.

Over the coming weeks, multichannel retailer Nespresso will unveil its new immersive retail experience in Australia through its fresh boutique concepts based in Canberra, Castle Towers, and Queen Street, Brisbane.

Throughout the stores, visitors will experience the journey that Nespresso says it undertakes to bring customers its coffee products – “from farming through to production to recycling” it said in a media statement emailed to Power Retail.

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“The new Nespresso boutique concept centres around a simplified and holistic customer journey through carefully sequenced areas that celebrate our coffee story,” said general manager of Nespresso Australia and Oceania, Loïc Réthoré.

“It’s a choice we have made to allow our customers to get a closer understanding of the brand and what it takes to produce high-quality coffee. This includes new architecture showcasing Nespresso’s ambition to become the highest quality and the most sustainable coffee brand in the world.”

With a roaming POS system, a sensory discovery table upon welcome and a coffee lab to learn everything from bean to cup and beyond, Nespresso aims to have customers leaving the store as a coffee expert, thereby gaining a greater appreciation for its products with the likely aim of boosting customer loyalty to the coffee brand. The company says it’s also aiming to promote its sustainability operations to consumers through its new space.

“The new boutiques have much more of a focus on sustainability, as it is an important value for the brand and something that Nespresso are continually putting more emphasis on in order to encourage customers to consider the environment and recycle more,” Nespresso’s public relations team told Power Retail.

But, while Nespresso is taking measures to increase its customers’ awareness around its sustainability operations with this and other initiatives, there is the good and the bad.

On the one hand, Nespresso trains coffee farmers and pays premium prices. Over the last few years, the Nestle-owned company has invested in and revived the coffee production industry in Sudan, which is great.

But on the other hand, Nespresso’s iconic single-serve aluminium pods are creating a whole lot of unnecessary waste, which the company has been widely criticised for over the last few years. The container that each coffee shot comes in is a valuable and energy-intensive resource that ends up in landfill – this, is bad. Nespresso isn’t the only company that has jumped onto the coffee pod bandwagon, with grocery chain Aldi now selling its own coffee pod range as well as Italy’s Cafitally.

While coffee pods are easy to use and mess-free, billions of them end up in landfills around the globe – and, they are not biodegradable. Independent consumer group Choice reported that in 2013 Nespresso sold an estimated 28 billion capsules globally – that’s about 28 million kg of aluminium that may be sitting somewhere in landfill, since the company has failed to publicise pod recycle figures, which isn’t good either.

“In 2013 Nespresso said it collected “75% of all capsules sold worldwide”. But while it may have collected 75% of the capsules, it doesn’t say whether that many have actually been recycled,” reported Choice.

When contacted by Power Retail this week, Nespresso was again unable to provide transparency around the number of its pods that gets recycled. “Unfortunately, we are unable to provide any recycling rates or numbers as this is considered commercially sensitive for Nespresso,” a company spokesperson told Power Retail.

They went on to say: “Nespresso believes that portioned coffee makes sense in terms of managing the environmental impact of coffee consumption and avoiding food waste. Additionally, Nespresso chose to use aluminium to create their capsules because it allows them to eliminate the need for any additional packaging or overwrap to protect freshness, providing further advantages from a sustainability perspective.”

Nespresso is pushing strong to get its sustainability image across to consumers and recover from its environmental backlash – will its new store concepts do the trick? Launch dates for its new boutiques are as follows: Sydney, 2nd November; Canberra on 9th November and Brisbane on 26th November.

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