January 02, 2007

Virtual CEO: Green Mountain Coffee Roasters

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters is a multichannel retailer based out of Vermont. With net sales of more than $200,000,000 in the past year, this business has found a niche in the highly competitive world of specialty coffee. By giving five percent of pre-tax profits to socially responsible initiatives, the business is able to give back while increasing shareholder value.

Four percent of all pounds of coffee sold are via the catalog and online channel. This yields somewhere between five and ten million dollars of sales via the direct channel.

Of interest is a statement in their most recent 10-K statement that the business uses the catalog and website to extend the brand in geographic areas where Green Mountain Coffee Roasters does not have a retail presence.

My question for you, the Virtual CEO, is this: Do you think that online and catalog sales of coffee products represent a good proxy for determining future retail markets? Could a database marketer mine this information effectively, or, do you think these "distance" customers are fundamentally different than the customers who make up the retail segment?

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