China has seen rapid growth of the domestic coffee market that register an annual growth rate seven times that of the global average. The average number of coffee shops in first tier cities reached 5,000. Such rapid growth outshines that of EU, US, Japan, Korea, and other developed markets. Boutique products thus may have an opportunity for market share gains at the expense of instant coffee or standardized coffee franchise, particularly in first and second tier cities.
Now consumers' desire of having good coffee is not only limited in the physical stores, but also at home, in office, and in other locations. Therefore, “7” needs to launch a coffee machine that can fit into different user scenarios and offer them an intuitive user experience when making the coffee.
After a series of consumer studies and analysis of consumer archetypes, the product definition team of 7 identified that milk coffee represents the consumer market trend of urban people ages 25-35, accounting for 61% of consumption. Therefore, to better fulfill the needs of our target consumers, in-depth interviews have been conducted in relation to their coffee consumption habits, which generated the following insights:
1. The machine must be intuitive to use, OK for people without in-depth knowledge of coffee brewing
2. The machine should be small enough, to fit into a range of user scenarios
3. The machine should provide a value proposition to ensure the cost performance
4. The machine should have unique design, and appealing to those who want to enjoy the fun of coffee brewing
5. The machine should guarantee the coffee taste is up to the consumers’ standard
Starting from the above five insights, 7’s team reviewed the existing coffee machines available in the market: American, hand brewing, mocha, semi-automatic, capsule, and mobile Italian. Finally, the project team identified the milk coffee machine as the key opportunity to make the breakthrough that 7 is looking for.
Manual operations have exact demands on water quality, temperature, coffee bean quality, grinding, filter, brewing pot, brewing technique, and timing, etc. 7 had especially invited coffee specialists to calibrate key metrics such as brewing time, milk/coffee proportion, etc. Exact amounts of milk and water were defined. The 7's team understood that general consumers may not be coffee experts, and they expected intuitive one-button operation to produce the same quality milk coffee at home just like in a boutique shop.
In terms of product looks, 7’s product design and delivery team produced over 20 prototypes using 3D printing and modeling services. Gradually, the team approached the best idea that can be feasibility materialized. Therefore, what was seen on the computer screen was faithfully reproduced in the final design.
In terms of product structure and technology R&D, product engineers incorporated mass production feasibility starting from the early design stage. Materials, assembly, mechanics and electronics parts integration, processing, quality assurance, and cost control were all part of the picture. Throughout the process from design to mass production, the engineers ensured strict control of the supply chain by targeting connectivity of supply channels and manufacturing resources leveraging the many years of real work experience. They tested equipment performance to fit with product requirements and user experience in an effort to optimize coffee machine functionality, including coffee taste and consistent performance. Thus, the engineers played an instrumental role in materialize the final product.
7’s attention to details was reflected in the careful design of insulated silicone case, the magnetic stir wheel easily attached to the milk pot, and the coils of the chassis. The overall product was small, mobile, and easy to store.
The product comes complete with coffee making tips and safety instructions. Consumers can learn more about the product through 7’s social account (ID: 7ife), which offers informational videos, tips of coffee preparation, among others, so as to provide a better user experience.
As one of 7’s first product line to be launched, the coffee makers fill in the gap in the market by offering an affordable, easy-to-use device to make great tasting milk coffee. Enjoying the new brewing experience, it only takes three minutes to make the milk coffee with one push of a button.
Within 72 hours of its launch, the project reached 315% of its original goal. 7’s Moka Coffee Maker finally raised over ¥460,000 and recieved 1,000 packers' funding on crowdfunding section of Taobao.com.