Keurig recently announced that its uber-popular coffee pod brewer is getting a redesign later this year. But before you get too excited, you should know that the redesign will end up costing its consumers more in the long run. The new coffee brewers will include some sort of technology that will only brew coffee pods made by Green Mountain Coffee (Keurig's coffee vendor), or major brands that are licensed Keurig vendors (including Starbucks, Folgers and Dunkin' Donuts). This technology is meant to directly cut out the competition, meaning more affordable, non-Keurig licensed coffee pod vendors.
Though Keurig CEO and President, Brian Kelley, claims the company is not trying to cut other brewers out and will continue to license unlicensed vendors, it's not exactly a win for consumers. Off-brand coffee pods are 5-25% cheaper than those made by Keurig's partners. This means that even if Keurig licenses the cheaper, unlicensed brewers, there will undoubtedly be a cost increase, and consumers will effectively be paying up to 25% more for the same non-Keurig brands that they used to save money on. Still, it's easy to see why Keurig wants to cut out the competition. According to Kelley, unlicensed pods accounted for 12% off all coffee pod sales last quarter. Sounds like they're starting to sweat!
They're not the only ones feeling the pressure though. The move to force the competition out is being compared to the specificity of buying printer ink based on brand. The consumer is the loser. You end up spending a substantial amount of money on the machine itself (some of the best prices we've ever seen on their most basic models are in the $80-$90 range), and then are stuck buying the more expensive, brand-name refills to accommodate it.
Consumers posting to online forums say they will boycott Keurig and buy other, similar machines so they can have a choice in the coffee they brew. Though Green Mountain Coffee has a variety of 200 different coffee pods, it comes down to principle and money spent.
Principle or not, one thing is for sure. If you plan to buy a Keurig this year, get it sooner than later (check out this Keurig Mini Brewer for $84 shipped). Otherwise you could be spending more not only on the machine, but on the coffee pods. How do you feel about this transition?