La Marzocco

Looking now and beyond with the annual La Marzocco roaster market survey

La Marzocco’s annual roaster market survey highlights key areas for attention and growth, and explores what roasters really want.

For many roasters, 2020 was a year of challenges and display of resilience. For others, it was a year of reflection and learnings with the opportunity to refine their focus and strengthen their market position.

To better understand how businesses have evolved and where their focus now lies, espresso machine manufacturer and service partner La Marzocco Australia conducted its second annual coffee roaster survey in collaboration with strategic partner Trout Creative Thinking. The survey started as a means for La Marzocco to listen directly to the needs of roasters and has continued as a means to develop new products and services that can help the industry progress in the best way possible.

One of the most prominent discoveries from the report, completed at the end of 2020, was the collective rise of the home consumer. Of the more than 200 roasters surveyed, 58 per cent said that retail and subscription services made a significant contribution to their sales last year.

Many roasters used 2020 as an opportunity to enhance their online experience, improve dispatch processes, increase digital marketing budgets, and offer free shipping incentives and bundled products, all targeting home coffee drinkers.

“The demand and growth of home coffee subscriptions and machinery is still continuing. People are not travelling internationally, they want to fit-out their home or office space with coffee equipment and support local roasters. This idea of the ‘home coffee consumer’ is a significant lifestyle shift driven by the lack of dine-in options and people being forced to work from home during the pandemic,” says La Marzocco Australia Brand Director Andy Di Donato.

“All the roasters we’ve spoken with have said they committed to becoming a consumer-facing brand last year with the purpose of diversification and brand presence extension, and it’s a strategy we expect to continue.”

One roaster saw a 300 per cent increase in their online coffee sales, which Andy says is a testament to the customer experience they created.

“For that reason, I think people will continue to source and invest in boutique options, and roasters will continue to diversify with their beans and accessories, such as access to more training and education,” he says.

Andy adds that roasters who invest the time and skill to market educational material will reap the benefits in a competitive market. To assist, La Marzocco Home is committed to supporting roasters with equipment, training, coffee education, and sales guidance to effectively target home consumers.

Demand for high quality servicing was identified as another key learning. With suburban and regional cafés experiencing increased volumes last year, and demand expected to continue outside of CBDs, roasters are faced with the logistical challenge of maintaining machinery across a broader geography.

Since La Marzocco partnered with machinery service company Brewtech in December 2019, there has been strong demand for its end-to-end service solution. Brewtech is the only service company in Australia to exclusively specialise in La Marzocco machines. La Marzocco Australia General Manager Barry Moore says the industry first, technical service initiative, shows the company’s commitment to supporting machine longevity.

La Marzocco will start holding educational training sessions to educate baristas on coffee excellence.

“The natural evolution of our business model means we not only import, test and dispatch our machines, but can install and provide premium service. This is done with Brewtech’s highly trained team and 100 per cent genuine parts, to exacting standards, 365 days a year to both our commercial and home customers,” Barry says.

“Other than supporting our customers, we are also able to provide real time feedback to our factory team in Florence on any issues. This way, we can keep incrementally fine tuning our machines, and importantly, provide deep insights of the challenges baristas, café owners, and roasters experience. This ensures we are developing the right products for the future – a fundamental hallmark of the La Marzocco mission.

Brewtech Founder Craig Milton adds that the partnership with La Marzocco has allowed the business to expand its network and assist venues by servicing more machines in record response times.

“Together with La Marzocco, we are offering our services to more customers, and helping Australia’s coffee industry, and the broader hospitality sector, get back on its feet,” Craig says.

La Marzocco offers subscription-based servicing and individual call-out servicing through Brewtech in Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland. Brewtech also provides coffee accessories, complete installation and set-up of coffee stations, and staff training.

According to La Marzocco Marketing Manager Jets Langlands, café owners want three things: “efficient, uninterrupted service; happy baristas; and consistently delicious coffee”. Any innovations that help speed up service in cafés, are ergonomic improvements for baristas, and creates a better customer experiences and bottom line for the venue of roasters, has a worthy place in the market.

“La Marzocco has a suite of machines that celebrate technical innovation and are designed to help improve the performance of a barista. The Linea PB is one such iconic machine, as is the KB90, which has changed baristas’ lives with its market-leading ergonomics and straight-in portafilter. La Marzocco coffee machines can also offer cool touch steam wands to prevent burns. It’s these features that give us a competition edge in the market,” Jets says.

To ensure roasters educate their customers on how to best use La Marzocco equipment, the manufacturer will run educational sessions in each state with baristas, technicians, and sales teams. It’s hoped the sessions will promote coffee excellence and prevent strains and workplace accidents. La Marzocco’s digital platform is also accessible with educational coverage to suit all levels of skill.

Another key finding from the survey was the trend towards off-the-shelf customisation. With 50 per cent of established coffee roasters only buying new equipment, each is looking for a point of difference. More cafés are investing in customised machine colour or painted panels to reflect the café environment, finishing texture, and adding branded elements or product features.

“As the market becomes more competitive, café owners want to give customers a reason to come into their café over others. Consistent coffee quality is important, but so is giving the customer a holistic experience beyond food and beverage. It’s about café design, music, the barista’s interaction and having a memorable coffee experience. That’s why personalisation of equipment is becoming so important,” Andy says.

Australian roasters are also demanding more training. In the survey, three in four coffee roasters – from market leaders to newcomers – identified a need for more information about training, with 36 per cent wanting new product demonstrations. As a result of shifting consumer habits, roasters are spending valuable time training team members and educating an influx of home customers about correct coffee-making techniques. This has triggered a rapid shift in business focus, with the needs of retail customers noticeably different to wholesale customers.

“Our customers want to learn and so do their customers,” Jets says. “The question is how we pass on our knowledge to roasters, and then onto the home user.”

To start, La Marzocco will share online training resources for machine usability, troubleshooting and maintenance for its partners later this year. Jets adds that it’s also important La Marzocco remains conscious of all factors when addressing which coffee machine would suit the personal needs of its customers.

Financing solutions and business guidance for the future is another key topic on roasters’ minds, with 50 per cent wanting more tangible business advice and information about La Marzocco financing options. Forty-two per cent said they currently used financing to purchase machinery.

“The cost of purchasing machines continues to be one of the largest barriers to expansion for roasters,” Andy says. “Some are reconsidering supplying machinery with coffee bean contracts and instead passing in the cost of machines to their customers.”

La Marzocco offers rent-to-own financing for all commercial machines on two, three, and four-year contracts. There’s no cumulative interest and customers can decide to keep the machine or sell it back at the end of the payment period. It even offers a buy now, pay later system via Zip Money for its home machines.

The key insights presented in the La Marzocco annual survey are intended to provide a valuable body of work to engage with customers and continue to determine what they need to be a healthy, sustainable business in this “new normal world”.

“The very high standards and sophistication of our market continues to drive innovation, but the survey has clearly shown us what roasters see value in, and what they need in terms of support,” Jets says. “We recognise our responsibility in helping progress the industry forward and see how our role is evolving to deliver what the market needs now, and in the years to come.”

For more information on how La Marzocco Australia can support your business, visit www.lamarzocco.com.au or contact sales.australia@lamarzocco.com

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