Nespresso North America CEO on social media and conscious consumerism

“There’s a higher propensity of genes here that will switch brands if the brands are not representing their values or will flop to brands or purposeful brands,” Alfonso Gonzalez told Retail Brew.
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· 4 min read

Some say that skipping that overpriced $8 cup of coffee every day could make you a millionaire. Others believe it’s worth the splurge.

If you’re somewhere in between, you might already own a coffee maker, and chances are it may be a Nespresso. The Swiss coffee company, which is one Nestlé’s key brands, generated over $7 billion in revenue in 2022, and continues to grow.

Last week, we told you all about how North American CEO Alfonso Gonzalez is reinventing the brand for Gen Z, but how else is the retailer expanding its presence in the US, and how exactly is it combining its business model with sustainability?

Gonzalez spills the beans in a conversation with Retail Brew.

This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

On having an omnichannel presence and social media

One of the biggest challenges of appealing to Gen Z is you have to be a brand that has an omnichannel presence. And what I mean is not that they only shop in brick and mortar or shop online—these consumers are shopping in very different channels with different means. They can be browsing online, and then shop offline or the other way around. Social media is extremely important to them. I mean, they’re going to go beyond the transaction on social media. About 60% of Gen Z go to social media to search for new information, and they’re four times more likely to find products and services they purchase through online research and social media. It is crucial for us to be present here, and we are a DTC-first brand. We use social media to really reinforce that one-to-one relationship with our consumers, and go beyond that transaction to create content to partner with influencers to really reach these audiences now.

On the impact of single-serve

Single serve—they attribute that the packaging factor makes it a very wasteful and unsustainable product…The biggest part of this is carbon footprint, the impact that you have as a brand is a source. It’s at farms. It’s how you procure coffee. It’s how you store that environment, where you’re procuring coffee, what is the impact to those communities?…But another very big part is at home. And when I mean at home is the amount of water consumers use, the electricity consumers use, the amount of coffee that they use. There’s a saying that the biggest consumer in the US of coffee is the kitchen sink, and this is because the traditional way of preparing coffee, they prepare a pot of coffee, they heat it up, it’s consistently heating and wasting energy, it uses a large amount of water or large amount of coffee. Usually that coffee is not optimal, because it got burned. And some of that coffee ends up in the kitchen sink. Single-serve systems—I like to view them as precision consumption. Our machines use the right amount of coffee with the right amount of water with a relative matter energy to give you the perfect cup.

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On sustainability at Nespresso

Since 2003, we established our tripling program in partnership with Rainforest Alliance. And when we do it, we procured directly from more than 150,000 farmers. On a yearly basis, we have agronomists around the world in the coffee regions that are providing technical assistance to these farmers, helping them over the years with their coffee quality to improve their coffee quality, to improve their yields, to improve the amount of coffee that they can produce. Not only do we do this, we have programs that positively impact the society, the farmer communities where we work. And finally we do environmental stewardship, water stewardship. So we do care for the environment where the coffee is grown. Then the farmers can sell the coffee if they choose to do Nespresso and we pay a significant premium to them.

Retail news that keeps industry pros in the know

Retail Brew delivers the latest retail industry news and insights surrounding marketing, DTC, and e-commerce to keep leaders and decision-makers up to date.