About Keurig Kold
Keurig is out to change how you think about their beverage makers with the upcoming Kold, a device claimed to make single, 8oz servings of all your favorite, perfectly chilled drinks—including sodas, seltzers, juices, sports drinks, and teas—without the need for ice cubes or CO2 canisters.
And perhaps best of all, the Keurig Kold is claimed to accomplish this in about a minute, with most beverages coming in at 100 calories or less per serving. Later down the road, Keurig would also like to add non-alcoholic mixers to Kold’s lineup as well.
According to CEO Brian Kelley, “Keurig's goal [is] to have an appliance on every counter and a beverage for every occasion. We expect [Keurig Kold] to revolutionize cold beverage in the home just as our hot platform has revolutionized the coffee and tea categories."
How Does Keurig Kold Work?
At the time of our research, the Keurig Kold beverage maker was slated for retail release “during the 2016 holiday season, [which is] later than investors were expecting,” although the company claims it will be available online as early as fall 2015. As such, there was very limited information provided on the Kold website, so many of the device’s details had to be pieced together from press releases and third-party online articles.
With this said, here’s just about everything we know about the Keurig Kold:
According to a September 2014 press release, the company has partnered with the Coca Cola Company by signing “a 10-year agreement to collaborate on the development and introduction of The Coca Cola Company's global brand portfolio for use in Keurig's forthcoming Keurig Cold™ at-home beverage system.”
IMAGE CREDIT: Business Wire
The first of these products is Coca Cola’s Honest Tea, which will be available in Keurig’s famous K-Cup packs. However, Keurig has also partnered with Dr Pepper Snapple, so more beverages appear to be on their way.
Instead of using CO2 canisters (like the SodaStream – more about this shortly), the Keurig Kold will use carbonation beads, which are included in each of the device’s K-Cup packs. Each of these packs is claimed to dispense “perfectly portioned” 8oz servings, which are pre-chilled to 39 degrees.
As far as operation, all we know about the Kold is that Keurig claims it will feature “one button simplicity,” although no additional details are provided.
Why Was Keurig Kold’s Release Delayed?
As the Business Insider article in the section above noted, it seems that Keurig has delayed the Kold’s release for several months, which is a big reason why the company’s stock fell 29 percent this year (in addition to consumer backlash against the company’s removal of refillable K-Cups).
Amid rumors to the contrary, Keurig management claims everything remains on track with the Kold beverage maker, citing the following recent developments:
- The “appliances” (i.e., the cold system units) have been undergoing home testing for fine tuning of design
- The appliance production line is up and running at a pilot rate
- The pods are designed and patented
- The high-speed pod production lines in Vermont are installed and being tested with a scheduled March startup
- A new Georgia plant is being built and is expected to start up this summer
Why Release the Kold Beverage Maker in the First Place?
Sure, it’s easy to understand that people don’t need help warming up during the summer months, so hot beverage sales decrease, while cold beverage sales increase. But is there really a place for Keurig in the cold beverage market?
To answer this, CEO Brian Kelley is quoted in a recent Fortune article as saying “the potential market for at-home cold beverage making is five times that for hot beverages like coffee and tea. Cold drinks are more diverse, including sodas, flavored waters, iced teas and sparking water. People also drink them more often during the day, he emphasized.”
As such, there appears to be a large market share that Keurig hopes to take advantage of with the Kold, especially by leveraging their brand awareness to (hopefully) help their customers overcome apprehension at the high price (more about this in a moment), to boost sales, and to elbow out the competition.
Similar Products to Keurig Kold
Speaking of which: while the Keurig Kold appears to have its own unique design and to offer some useful features, such as the included carbonation beads and the pre-chilled beverages it dispenses, it’s up against some fairly steep competition.
Among Keurig Kold’s primary competition is the SodaStream, which doesn’t pre-chill and will require you to purchase CO2 canisters, but comes in at about 1/3 of the cost.
To perhaps justify this price, “Keurig executives bragged that the technology behind their new drink machine is more innovative and unique to the market.” Also, there appears to have been a lot of R&D related to the Kold, resulting in “about 50 issued patents worldwide and 100 patent-pending applications,” including their carbonation beads.
Despite this justification, SeekingAlpha.com predicts dire news for the Keurig Kold when compared to the SodaStream, claiming that, “Keurig Kold products will not be on-trend with consumer. Consumers are steering away from traditional colas, not toward them. Overall pricing will be a tremendous barrier for three-fourths of the North American population,” and that “Keurig Kold will sell far less units than SodaStream in the next 12-month period.”
For their part, SodaStream doesn’t view the Keurig Kold as competition.
However, it’s not all roses for SodaStream either, as the company “is struggling. Consumers don't need or want another way to obtain instant cold beverages. The instant cold beverage market is already saturated by other companies that produce drinks in bottles or cans. These drinks can easily be kept cold in a refrigerator, and are available instantly on demand, without the added complication of running a machine. While one of the main selling points of the Keurig Kold's is convenience, it is arguably less convenient than other cold drink options that already exist.”
Another soon-to-released cold beverage maker that will compete directly with the Keurig Kold and SodaStream is B.blend, which involves collaboration between Whirlpool and Anheuser-Busch.
Customers Can’t Talk About the Keurig Kold – Yet
As we mentioned previously, the Keurig Kold had about 6 months remaining before being released, so there weren’t any online customer reviews available at the time of our research.
However, Keurig Green Mountain, Inc. held an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau with 123 closed complaints (as of 7/8/15), most of which appeared to revolve around defective merchandise and difficulty obtaining replacement parts covered under warranty.
Keurig Kold Pricing & Refund Policy
While pricing hadn’t been officially released at the time of our research, according to Fool.com, the Keurig Kold will be priced “between $299 and $369, depending on the retailer,” while the pods will “retail for between $0.99 and $1.29” each, which “will be sold in four-count boxes at first with additional sizes being added depending upon demand.”
And while this might seem pricey, QZ.com notes, “Even at that price, Keurig will be subsidizing the product and losing money on every machine, hoping to make it back with pod sales.”
If purchased directly through Keurig after release, your Kold will come with a 30-day refund policy, less S&H charges. Keurig K-Cup devices (which will include the Kold) also come with a 1-year warranty against defects in materials or workmanship under normal home use.
In order to request a refund or process a warranty claim, you’ll need to contact Keurig customer service at 866-901-BREW (2739).
Will Keurig Kold Find a Spot on Your Countertop?
Admittedly, the Keurig Kold is a pretty cool (pun intended) countertop device. However, the pink elephant in the room is the Kold’s astronomical price tag, which could present a huge stumbling block, especially when the competition comes in at about 1/3 of the cost.
Add to this that you’ll only be able to use licensed K-Cups with the Kold (similar to the company’s Keurig 2.0 device, which was largely considered a flop) that are much more expensive than purchasing a 12-pack of soda from your local supermarket. As such, you’ll be paying more every step of the way when comparing Keurig’s Kold to traditional beverages.
Finally, with consumers becoming increasingly health conscious and understanding the huge impact that just one soda per day can have, including accelerated aging and an increased risk of diabetes, it’s unclear just how large of a market potential the Keurig Kold really has.
Because of these concerns, we’d have to wonder how long the Keurig Kold will remain on your counter after the novelty (and initial sticker shock) have worn off.
What’s your experience with the Keurig Kold? Was it a home run or a strike out? Tell us all about it by writing a review below!