BRITA A brilliant opportunity for vending operators Anthony Spruce, Sales Director, BRITA Professional, calls for the industry to focus more on the consumer
How do you help operators to look after the quality of their water so that it enhances the consumer experience and protects equipment?
BRITA has been at the forefront of water filtration for over 40 years. For many years we produced products purely for consumer water filtration, but after being contacted by the
foodservice sector, we began to provide the same technology for use in vending machines. Water has the potential to cause a lot of problems in vending machines. Scale is a big concern as chalk gets into the water and precipitates, causing problems for the machinery and producing a nasty appearance in the drink. The other issue is chlorine, which is put in the water to stop the bugs but can also affect the taste. Both are removed by water filtration, enhancing the quality and taste of the drink.
Can you explain what makes your service proactive rather than reactive?
If you invest in water filters you have to understand what happens at the end of their life. Rather than waiting for a machine to break down, BRITA has invested £1.5m in a CRM tool which tells the operator when a filter needs changing. Geographical location determines how long a filter will last; our water is much harder in the south than in the north. We can provide all of that information and provide a date for the water filter to be changed.
You have launched an online resource for hospitality operators that is set to provide valuable resources for operators, illustrating the expertise BRITA Professional can offer. Can you tell us a bit more about what users can expect to see when visiting the site?
The big hurdle for the industry is misinformation and a lack of interest - water treatment is not the most pressing subject on the radar. Roasters and operators are all striving to offer the best quality product. Through the website we are offering bite sized chunks of information, taking the basics and producing the hard facts. This all combines to show customers how they can improve the quality and taste of the drink served.
Are there any specific challenges in the marketplace right now? Have you identified any further areas for development?
The BRITA name is in outlets worldwide. We have to guard that brand jealously and use it to an advantage. Research and trials have shown us that if operators treat water with BRITA filters and label the machine with our logo, sales will go up. I think the vending industry needs to focus more on the consumer.
The biggest challenge so far has been the economy; I have worked in this field through three recessions and this is by far the worst.
I do, however, see a brilliant opportunity for vending operators; we just need to look at things differently. We need to be more relevant. A great example of this is Costa Coffee. I’m surprised it took so long to happen, but they bought Coffee Nation recently and branded it as Costa Express. Profits must be soaring as they are springing up everywhere. Yes consumer finances are strained, but money is still being put aside for little treats and this is why they are doing well - the consumer might not be able to afford a new car or a holiday but they can afford a cup of coffee. In the consumer market, water filter sales are flying, because the
consumer is saving on buying bottled water. If I were a vending operator I would do things very differently.
Why do we put a vending machine in an office and leave it there for 5 years? Why don’t we create a more retail led experience, merchandising the machine, changing the panels to create more relevant, targeted marketing? The machine has to keep changing to catch the consumers’ attention and keep their interest – make it exciting, make it relevant. Operators should be more proactive – we know from our experience of creating products for the consumer that you need to listen to what it is they want.
How important is the relationship between water companies like yourself, and the vending industry as a whole?
It’s vital. Without the operators we don’t have the business and without water treatment, the operators are going to struggle. It’s a partnership.
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