Nescafe discards self-heating cans

LONDON - Nestle UK has abandoned Nescafe Hot When You Want, its self-heating coffee in a can, because it failed to get hot enough in cold weather.

The company has stopped making the product in its current form and has commissioned Beverage Partners Worldwide, its joint venture with Coca-Cola, to create an improved version.

Hot When You Want launched to a test market of around 5000 outlets in the Midlands a year ago, priced at £1.19 for a 330ml can and available in two variants: with milk, and with milk and sugar.

Devised by Thermotic Developments, a button on the base of the can activated a heating mechanism.

Nestle contributed around £5m to the development of the can and pledged another £10m in marketing support, including a TV campaign through McCann-Erickson. Around £2.5m was spent above the line.

Jon Walsh, Nestle's marketing director for impulse drinks and strategic innovation, admitted there were two main problems with the product.

The first was that people were disappointed to open the 330ml can and find only 210ml of coffee inside, even though the volume was spelled out on the label.

The second, more serious, problem was that the drink didn't get hot enough in cold weather.

"We had some consumers referring to it as 'Warm when you want'," said Walsh. "The can was not reliable enough. It was designed to add 40°C to the liquid when it was opened, which is fine when the starting temperature is 25°C, but not so great in the winter."

Walsh said penetration of Hot When You Want reached 15% after just five months but tailed off when people failed to buy it again.

Walsh added that the creation of a "hot drinks on the move" category was a valuable opportunity and that Nescafe hoped to offer a replacement product. The brand name, Hot When You Want, would not necessarily be reused.

If you have an opinion on this or any other issue raised on Brand Republic, join the debate in the Forum here.