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Big Player, Small Market

Nestlé (Thailand) was the largest multinational present at the Food and Beverage Expo, with its “out-of-home” food services business, Nestlé Professional, attracting a constant throng of attendees sipping free lattes, cappuccinos and expressos. “Western” coffee is a current hot ticket item in Cambodia, with uber-modern locally owned coffee shops and cafés opening at a rapid rate, especially in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, and with global brands such as Starbucks and Gloria Jeans entering the market. 


But it is a market that is perhaps growing too quickly, argues the Nestlé pavilion’s genial host, Laurent Deniau, and the sector’s froth may soon settle. Mr. Deniau, Nestlé’s business development manager for Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, predicted a rationalisation of new coffee shops in the near future, with the current crowding of the Cambodian market unsustainable. Given the high investment required to setup a modern café, he says, some are doomed for serious losses.


– Laurent Deniau, Business Development Manager for Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar, Nestlé

But Nestlé’s biggest coffee market here is far removed from café-style coffee. The humble instant coffee dominates, and Deniau points out, “Nestlé is very strong on coffee in Cambodia with Nescafé 3in1 and Nescafé Redcup.” The global giant encroaches on the café-style market here with a unique and niche product, he says, its Nescafé Alegria coffee solutions, which could eventually take fine coffee into petrol stations, hotels and offices.

The “coffee solutions” are based around easy-to-clean and easy-to-maintain coffee-making machines launched by Nestlé in 2012 as a cost-effective system that allows anyone to make café-style coffees for their customers, either as a promotional tool, or for sale. “We are introducing our new Nescafé Alegria coffee solutions with consumer promotion, outlet decoration and trade shows,” says Deniau. He also notes that the new coffee trends in Cambodia are iced coffee with a coffee taste “that’s not so strong,” and also more “fancy-mix” coffee that is actually less about coffee and more about being a drink.

According to Deniau, part of Nestlé’s success is in being in tune with customer demand, while at the same time also undergoing extensive campaigns to change the habits and demands of consumers. An obvious example of the latter is being played out in Myanmar at present, with the goal of transforming traditional tea drinkers into coffee consumers.

Due to Myanmar’s British colonial heritage, teashops traditionally dominate the market therefor hot drinks. To change this long-entrenched consumer habit, Nestle is now rolling out its Nescafé Master Program in Myanmar’s many teashops. “The objective is to help the teashop owners to develop strong coffee knowledge and become coffee masters. This programme consists of training where the operator will learn about coffee and some original recipes, plus learn hands-on coffee preparation,” Deniau says.

“Then we propose to decorate the outlet to upgrade the standard, offering accessories such as nice glasses or menu stands to uplift the consumer experience. Finally, the programme includes sampling to consumers and consumer promotions such as Facebook promotions where the consumer will share their new coffee experiences.”