It's 1949. Nescafe launches a new product: an instant coffee. The product's advantage is clear: the instant coffee dissolves in hot water within just three minutes. Indeed, pre-tests show pleased potential consumers.


With its first campaign, Nescafé commits a mistake in communication to women

However, at the time of introducing the product into US market, sales results are disappointing. Nestlé begins a research:"Why don't you buy an instant coffee? I don't like the taste"

Nescafé wanted to go further and made a casual focus, on two groups of housewives. Each group was given a shopping list. The lists were identical expect for one detail: one contained Nescafé instant coffee and the other one, a grind coffee. Each group was asked to describe the type of woman who has written the shopping list. The group whose list contained Nescafé, described the woman as lazy, unorganised, careless, spendthrift, bad wife and mother.

Nescafé found out what the real reason was-why consumers didn't buy Nescafe's new product: women felt that if they reduce time that they use to dedicate for preparing coffee every day, their families might consider them lazy housewives. In 50's, Nescafe's advantages have been seen as something negative.

Women-the new target


Then, what could Nescafé do? The brand launched a new advertising campaign. The slogan: "The instant coffee will allow you to dedicate more time for more important things!" helped to change the opinion of American housewives.

And, what were those more important things? Looking after family, of course.

Instant coffee was discovered in 1901 by Satori Kato, an American chemist with Japanese origins. The invention caused a controversy. Many experts, especially Italian ones, were convinced that a good cup of coffee can only be made by highly qualified baristas.

This and the housewives resistance meant a great challenge for product's sales. Nescafé had to point out product's advantages without going against the women's need to be recognized as dedicated housewives.

Nescafé was not selling a product, but an illusion of what it could do for its user. The brand began a campaign, which included previously mentioned slogan and introduced the product into the diary routine of women. It referred to relatives living far away and was aimed to cause the bad conscious: ¨it's a long time since you've written them a single letter¨. It was said, that with the instant coffee, now there was no excuse for not writing. Housewives could do it perfectly, just if they decided to save some time prepareing an instant coffee.

These brilliant campaigns succeed in 50's and it works nowadays.

Nescafé changes along with women.

Nowadays, women don't need to be said that they should save time. Women want to save time, and not only because of their families. They want some extra time to look after themselves, and to…save time, after all!

In 80's, Nescafé aimed its campaign to a more independent woman:

In last years, Nescafe's campaigns are aimed not only to women. The brand has used the concept of friendship:

Current Nescafe's ads are funny and sensual:

In difficult times, Nescafé made women buy a product that seemed to jeopardize their image of dedicated housewives. The brand had enough empathy to understand the women's background and adjust the product into their reality.

Nescafé managed to adapt its campaigns to different moments in women's lives, since 1949 to nowadays, when the brand shows an independent and self-confident woman.

That's without doubt a great strategy.


Sources: FAO, University of Sydney, Nestlé, Jon Williamson.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *