Nescafe is at the centre of a social media brouhaha with coffee drinkers stirred to action after the beverages giant changed the recipes for some of its most popular brands.
The coffee manufacturer’s Facebook page has been bombarded with angry customers who claim their beloved instant coffee is now leaving a bad taste in their mouth.
Some say Nescafe no longer tastes like coffee, while others are going as far saying the product changes are “destroying” their mornings.
“Why did you change the recipe for your strong cappuccino?” one disgruntled customer wrote on Nescafe’s Facebook page.
“It was perfect the way it was. You have lost a loyal and long-term customer.”
Others have asked the coffee manufacturer to go back to using its old recipes.
“You may be saving money on these new recipes, but in the long run you will lose out as we all go to alternatives and inform our friends to do the same,” another customer wrote.
In response to one angry customer, Nescafe said it had updated its Café Menu range based on feedback from consumers that said they wanted a “creamier, frothier coffee”.
Nescafe is not the first business to come under fire for changing a recipe or deleting a product line altogether.
Angry customers banded together earlier this year after Cadbury changed the recipe for its popular Creme Egg product.
More recently, popular confectionary brand Allen’s was criticised earlier this year for removing Spearmint Leaves and Green Frogs from supermarket shelves.
Marketing expert and founder of Brandology, Michel Hogan, told SmartCompany the backlash against Nescafe shows how passionate people are about the company’s brand.
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“It’s lovely that people love their instant coffee so much,” Hogan says.
“We’re creatures of habit and we like things to be the same. But when things are part of people’s every-day, that’s when you start playing with fire as people are really sensitive.”
Hogan says when it comes to changing a popular product, businesses need to weigh up all the pros and cons – including potentially making some customers angry.
“You’ve got to look at what the potential impact on customer happiness is versus the benefit the company is going to get from making that change,” she says.
“That’s what you’re trading – look at the trade. There’s got to be a pretty significant upside.”
Hogan says businesses need to understand they are not going to make everyone happy all the time, and need to keep in mind the long-term gain as opposed to short-term results. “This is probably only a short-term hit,” she says.
“You’ll get a few vocal people on Facebook and Twitter and it creates a storm in a teacup. But unless they get a massive number of people who are likeminded and supporting it, the likelihood that they will change Nescafe’s mind and bring back the old formula is relatively slim. It would have to be a massive movement.”
A spokesperson for Nescafe told SmartCompany the business had “made slight alterations” to the flavour and texture of its coffee products.
“We wanted to be sure that we were offering the best tasting speciality coffee mix available,” the spokesperson said.
“As part of the change, we conducted extensive tasting research across Australia with regular Nescafe Cafe Menu consumers to make sure we had the best tasting product, and research showed that a significant majority of consumers preferred the new product. We know consumers don’t like changes to their favourite products, and for that reason, we don’t change products lightly. Whenever we make a change to a product, regardless of the change, some negative initial feedback is not unexpected.”