Keurig, I Warned You About Your DRM Coffee Cups!
Keurig's New 2.0 Coffee Machine Leads To Angry Customers and Lost Revenue
On March 12th, 2014, almost one year ago, I published this article explaining the massive mistake I believed Keurig was about to make. At the time, Keurig was beloved in homes and offices across America and the world. They took a simple cup of coffee and transformed it, using special pods to ensure everyone could brew the coffee they wanted in seconds. No long wait for a pot of coffee to brew. No stale coffee bubbling in a carafe.
It was a great machine.
Then came the news of the Keurig 2.0. Three letters, DRM, accompanied it.
DRM stands for Digital Rights Management, and Keurig was going to introduce a new machine that only accepted coffee pods that it manufactured. As I explained at the time, in this day and age, that is a massive mistake to make with millennials:
“You want coffee; you have to buy Keurig. But millennials, who are big fans of the current Keurig system, do not like being told what to buy and how to buy it. They are huge proponents of a much more free and open society. Being shackled to only one brand of coffee is going to feel like bullying to them, and they will protest in the best way they know…with their wallets.”
And the reviews on Amazon.com are brutal. Once a place where Keurig enjoyed great success, the customers are biting back, with reviews like:
“This company needs to wither and die. There are new better alternatives. Please don’t buy this and support a horrendous business model. They literally outlawed the love of coffee.”
“You shouldn't have to "hack" your coffee maker.”
“It's a gimmick...and not even a very good one at that. Keurig is trying to dominate the K-cup market and whoever buys this machine will be sucked right into it."
“Keurig: You know what our customers want with their coffee? DRM. What a scumbag move. Do not buy this piece of trash.”
“My first and last Keurig machine is on the kitchen counter now. Digital Restrictions Malware isn't cool, and I won't buy another coffee maker from them if this is how they're going to behave.”
“Spend $100+ on our coffee maker so we can mandate what kind of coffee you make, overcharge you for our pods and put all your extra money in our pockets alone. A closed-source coffee machine...never thought a company would stoop so low.”
It’s a good assumption that these are reviews from customers who once loved their Keurig machines. After all, they know just how the machines used to work, and probably have a stockpile of unusable pods.
If the consumer backlash is not enough, the DRM technology has impacted businesses that supplied coffee pods for the Keurig machines. Ontario-based Club Coffee filed a $600 million lawsuit with Keurig, alleging (and rightly so) that Keurig is trying to reduce competition and corner the market.
Of course, as Jeff Goldblum’s character so rightly pointed out in Jurassic Park, “life will find a way.” People are already finding ways to hack the DRM technology, like this company here, meaning that Keurig has spent millions developing a new machine that has done just one thing…annoyed its customer base.
The impact to Keurig’s finances has been significant, with sales decreasing over 12% in the last quarter. More importantly, they have tarnished their own reputation, and have angered their customer base. Their brand image is in tatters.
But most annoying of all, Keurig knew this was coming. I was one of dozens of writers who said in no uncertain terms that this was a horrendous business decision.
They did it anyway. They now have to live with the consequences.
Keurig…you should have woken up and smelled the coffee a long time ago.