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20CENT STYLE Costa lands in Belgium

20CENT STYLE Costa lands in Belgium

With the arrival Costa in Belgium, it is a big news for the coffee segment and obviously also for the hot beverage lovers. Last week was the official launch and the Coca-Cola Company announced to have big ambitions with the brand. 


The most loved brand and nothing less

Costa Coffee is a well-known name in the world. It was founded in London in 1971. And in the last 50 years, it grew to become the biggest coffee chain in Europe with 3889 coffee shops and 12449 vending machines installed over 41 countries worldwide. With the ambition of Coca-Cola to become more diversified and as they say a total beverage company, the group acquired Costa Coffee in 2019. 

So now what are the plans? World domination? Well sort of, but it is less ominous. The group wants Costa to become the most loved coffee brand. And on the European continent, together with Germany, Belgium was chosen to start this mission. 


A tale of four cities

Belgium is a great place of coffee lovers it seems. The segment grows and in terms of consumption per capita, Belgium is above the European average. As explained by the marketing teams, the group will focus on two strategies to develop the offer in the country: 

  • Developing the presence in bars and restaurants
  • Offering a self-service solution with an advanced vending machine named Marlow

The group decided to roll out first in four major cities (Brussels, Antwerp, Gent and Liège), and will support the plans with major marketing campaigns, samplings, tastings and more. 


Marlow says “Ice to see you”

The name Marlow is not fantastic if you ask me. It doesn’t sound like a technologically advanced machine or a barista but I guess the group had to give a name to their self-service concept. But more importantly, the thing is that on several retail events and tradeshows (EuVendVending ParisEuroshop…) I often saw machines capable of various things such as offering hot and cold products, facial recognition, present a huge variety of choices for the consumer, incorporate digital displays and speakers for advertising, …etc. And actually, with this Marlow, it is the first time I see a technologically advanced machine rolled out in Belgium. It works quite nicely. You get to choose your recipe (hot, or an icey blend) and once it starts, the speakers and visuals recreate barista sounds and feel. So next to a wide variety of choice, you get a certain sensorial experience. 


What’s next? (and my 20/CENT)

Well after the launch and development via the two above mentioned strategies, we can also expect a few other items. I’ll give them to you in bullet points: 

  • Luxembourg? Costa should arrive in 2022, 
  • Coffee shops in Belgium? Too soon to tell, but indeed it’s part of the ambition
  • On the retail shelves? Well duh! Obviously! Selling the beans is in the plans but also cans of lattes and maybe more (watch out other brands in that segment).
  • Will there be a Costa ZERO? The answer from the group’s marketing responsible was a political one. But who knows? It made me laugh to ask, but I doubt it. And honestly, what would be the point?

To give you MY 20/CENT on this arrival of Costa, I’ll just conclude by telling you this: Obviously, I expect a company with the means of Coca-Cola to be successful in reaching their sales target and develop the brand in Belgium. But there is one element that should help the group and it’s this pretty technological vending machine they chose for the job. 





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