The 57-Year-Old Startup: 5 Questions With Coffee-mate’s Bianca Suchter


Coffee-Mate Natural Bliss

Coffee-Mate, the non-dairy creamer available in powdered, liquid and concentrated liquid form, was introduced in 1961 by Carnation, the same year that Rich Products introduced CoffeeRich. Several years ago, the Nestlé-owned brand simply wasn’t a candidate to be exhibiting at Natural Expo West, one of the world’s foremost shows for up-and-coming natural, organic and generally better-for-you brands and products.

But then the Nestlé-owned creamer brand introduced its Natural Bliss line with “all-natural ingredients” (no GMOs or added growth hormones) and, last year, almond milk and coconut milk versions of Natural Bliss. Coffee-mate’s street cred in cleaner-label, more healthful creamers was established. So, this year, Coffee-mate showed up at Expo West with new flavors of Natural Bliss that are hitting store shelves now: Honey Cream and Honey Pecan creamers. They add a touch of all-natural honey and allow Coffee-mate to reduce sugar by 30% compared with the regular Natural Bliss line.

“We received a lot of positive feedback during Expo West from consumers who tasted the product at the booth,” Bianca Suchter, Marketing Manager, Coffee-mate, told brandchannel. She shared more with us about the marketing and evolution of Coffee-mate:

You introduced plant-based creamers last year. How did that go?

Last year we took a major step into the plant-based creamer category by offering varieties in almond milk and coconut milk. Over the past few years we’ve seen the plant-based category skyrocket and we know this is not just a trend, but a consumer preference that is here for the long run.

We worked hard to develop all natural plant-based creamers that do not sacrifice taste, texture or flavor and we are excited to see that these varieties are loved by consumers. At Nestlé, we evaluate new items on their velocity, repeat rates and incrementality, and I’m pleased to tell you that we’re very proud of how these products are performing.

Which of your new varieties are doing better—the coconut-milk and almond-milk based ones, or the Natural Bliss sub-brand that features “all-natural ingredients” in a traditional dairy base?

The good news is they are all performing very well. The entire Natural Bliss portfolio is a key growth driver for Coffee-mate and it offers a variety of choices for consumers. Whether you want a more traditional milk and cream or a dairy alternative such as plant-based, Natural Bliss has something for everyone.

Expo West has exploded with the interest in better-for-you foods and typically features undiscovered brands and products. How do you position Coffee-mate, a familiar, established CPG brand?

At Nestlé, we like to say that we are a 150-year-old startup because as a company we are constantly innovating and transforming to meet consumers’ changing needs and preferences. We are taking a multi-pronged approach to strengthen our base brands such as Coffee-mate, while also embarking on new ventures that seed future growth such as Natural Bliss. Our presence at Expo West illustrates that we have our eyes set on the future and will continue to innovate to meet consumers’ ever-changing taste preferences.

There’s a lot of activity these days in new coffee products and formats. How can Coffee-mate get an even bigger part of this dynamic and fast-growing part of the CPG market?

Our team has its fingers on the pulse of the ever-changing trends and consumer preferences and will continue to innovate to meet those preferences. We are confident that between our startup culture and the resources within Nestlé that we can continue to be a leader in the creamer category.

What kinds of things has Coffee-mate been doing with in-store marketing to engage the customer at the point of purchase?

We approach in-store marketing a variety of ways for our Coffee-mate and Natural Bliss products. From traditional in-store signage and sampling to digital couponing and influencer engagement, we try to connect with our consumers throughout their shopping journey.

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