Keurig’s Recent Misstep Shows How To Destroy a Brand

keurig 2.0

When Keurig came out with its new Keurig 2.0 coffee makers the company apparently saw it as the next step for its brand. But not all customers are seeing it that way. The issue is the new Keurig 2.0 coffee makers will no longer accept older K-cups, third party coffee pods, or reusable pods.

And the backlash is making this look like a big misstep for the Keurig brand.

One of the things customers loved about Keurig coffee makers was the single-serve K-Cups. Instead of brewing an entire pot of coffee that might not get finished and just grow stale, coffee drinkers could pop a K-cup into their Keurig. There they could brew just one cup and be on their way. There were even refillable K-Cups so customers could use any coffee they chose. And of coure, third party providers started coming up with cups that worked with the machine.

This new method was revolutionary. However with Keurig 2.0, the company has implemented the use of “Digital Rights Management” or DRM computer chips. Basically this means Keurig can now control what pods are used in its machines. And the new machines only accept official Keurig K-Cups. That means no more reusable K-Cups and no more third party cups if you don’ happen to like the selection Keurig has to offer.

In an official statement, the company says:

“In order for us to deliver the best experience within our most advanced system to date, Keurig 2.0 features smart technology that reads the pack lid and recognizes the type of beverage pack that has been inserted.

This technology offers distinct consumer benefits of automatic adjustment of brew temperature and size control depending on if a K-Cup pack or K-Carafe pack is inserted, which ensures a quality brewing experience and allows for the same one-touch simplicity consumers love about Keurig.  Every K-Cup pack beverage option and brand that was available for previous Keurig brewers — and many new additions — is available for the new Keurig 2.0 system.”

Keurig is claiming their new K-Cup system will result in a better cup of coffee. But some customers are just frustrated. They see it as a scheme to make more money off the company’s more expensive K-Cups. Customers also don’t appreciate being limited on the coffee they can use.

Keurig claims it wants to work with customers by offering to  replace older K-cups that don;t work with the new machines. The statement goes on to explain:

“Since earlier this year, we’ve been transitioning all of our K-Cup pack inventory to include the new interactive technology on each lid of the pack. We anticipated that some consumers who purchased a Keurig 2.0 brewer may have older, non-transitioned K-Cup pack stock in their pantry.

We planned accordingly and provide explicit instructions and a phone number on the brewer touch screen to immediately assist consumers in getting in touch with our Consumer Care team, who will quickly replace outdated pantry stock for new Keurig 2.0 consumers free of charge.”

Even though Keurig is willing to replace old K-Cups for free, customers are still angry at the limitations and added expense of the new system.

This has led to an increased number of YouTube videos showing “hacks” around the DRM system. A rather simple and clever move of cutting the lid off of an official K-Cup and placing it on your own pod seems to do the trick. Third parties are also coming up with products to work around Keurig’s DRM.

But in the end, Keurig seems to be destroying its brand through the misuse of DRM. Customers don’t appreciate being told how they can use their coffee makers. It’s a mistake for a company to think it still own its product even after it is purchased.

Even though Keurig 2.0 sold well — it could be Keurig’s downfall if they don’t learn from this and fix their mistake.

Image: Keurig

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Tabby McFarland Tabby McFarland is a staff writer and web researcher for Small Business Trends. As a staff writer she specializes in social media, technology, special interest features, and e-commerce. A geek at heart, Tabby loves to be online interacting with the blogging community. Tabby is a WAHM (work at home mom) and is also an avid Pinterest enthusiast with a strong sense of style and creativity.

18 Reactions
  1. Keurig it is a very poorly design coffee machine..the pump breaks all the time and the K-cups are instant coffee, so taste is what it is if you like instant leaks so your counter is splatter with stains.
    I’m glad people finally see what a waste of money is Keurig

    • I totally agree with the article — except when I called Keurig to protest, I was given the party line about “the experience,” and was offered the suggestion that I donate my now-useless K-cups to Goodwill.

      The machine is up to current US standards for utility of an appliance, and its construction quality is on par with other countertop appliances. The coffee in the pods isn’t instant, but finely ground beans.

      The simple hack for older pods does work, and a small magnet will magically convert it into the most expensive machine Keurig offers — another example of screwing the consumer all Keurig can. This will definitely have been my last Keurig purchase. Shame on them!

  2. The coffee quality depends on what you buy. Even nespresso has other brands supplying pods.

  3. Booted Keurig to the curb as soon I learned they were implementing DRM on my coffee machine – even though I still has a 1.0 machine. I refuse to license my appliances. I bought the coffee machine I have the right to make whatever I’d like in it.

    Went back to old fashioned pour over coffee. It tastes better. I can still make a single cup. And now I’m also not leeching any toxins from their plastic k-cups with each cup. Nor wondering just what type of bio slime is building up in their sealed, uncleanable water tank and pump.

    Good riddance.

  4. …kind of sound like Apple products. The reason I, and so many other Android users left iPhones behind was due to Apple’s “closed-ecosystem”. Your forced to buy their new chargers, accessories etc. every time they decide to release a new model.

  5. I was truly disappointed with the 2.0’s design NOT to accept certain cups. I really should have returned it. Now I’m stuck with it and can’t wait till it breaks. I don’t appreciate being told what brands I can or cannot use. Will never buy another one and will not give it a good recommendation. Terrible, insulting decision.

  6. Consumers Against Keurig 2.0

    They’ve underestimated the intelligence and power of the consumer. I did have the opportunity to speak with Brian Kelley via a phone conversation, and to his credit, he made no attempts to placate me or sideswipe me with rhetoric. I believe, as I told him, that you control the market by putting out superior product, and not by actively restricting choice.

    Bottom line, Keurig wanted so bad to clamp down on third-party k-compatible cups that they put out a horribly over-engineered product, and are taking every avenue they can to justify their actions.

  7. And not allowing the 2.0 machine to accept resuable pods was indeed a huge mistake. That was the K-Cup’s one claim it could make for protecting the planet. Now it’s gone.

  8. If it ain’t broke (for the customer) don’t fix it.

    The Franchise King®

  9. A small family-run company has offered free devices that will “unlock” the Keurig “DRM.”

    Here is the URL

    First Keurig tries to steam-parboil its customers, and now this. How can they stay in business with this kind of attitude?

  10. I should totally have researched before buying the Keurig 2.0. Good thing I can return it. I got a Keurig mini a few years ago for free at my university; waited in a long line for it, and it was totally worth it. Ever since then, I’ve been able to make coffee that’s far better than what my coffee maker made. When my Keurig was starting to wear out, I decided to give the 2.0 a try. The instant I saw the DRM thing I knew I’d made a mistake. Researching hacks brought me to the freedom clip, and being on Rogers’ Family Coffee site I looked into their coffees and ended up ordering some and that is the most delicious coffee I have ever had. Once I get this Keurig 2.0 returned, I will be looking into alternatives.

  11. We bought the new Keurig Maching on the internet not realizing that it would no longer allow you to use any K-cup or allow you to use your own coffee in the special container that allowed you to brew a cup of coffee from any canned coffee. This really angered me I was furious. I immediately wanted to send the damn thing back. Who thought of this Idea should have been fired and the CEO relived of his position. It shows total disrespect for the buyer of this product and geed this company displays. I went on the web to see anybody else shared my anger and there were many people that were fooled also. I’m looking at other brewers that use this k-cup idea and also allows the flexibility of using a specilal container to brew a single cup of your own coffee from a can. Keurig deserves to loose their business when greed means more than their customers.

  12. I was going to get one until I read reviews on Amazon… then I did more research and found that Bunn makes a single serve that uses Keurig and a whole bunch of other brands.

  13. I refuse to get the 2.0. If it breaks I will not replace it. Right back at ya, Kue-Rig.

  14. I have a 2. 450 keurig. It has not worked since day one. I took it back and have same problems, after e mails, phone calls, I found one of the problems. First, you have to push the pod down until it snaps. Nowhere does the book tell you that. Now I finally found out that because I have a water softener, I need to buy spring water to make coffee.. I would not have bought it, if the book, e mails, or phone calls would have told that. I would have taken it back to target. Keurig SHOULD have tell buyers about THE WATER PROBLEM,

  15. I have a keurig 2.0 also that has not worked right since I got it a year ago. I did not know about the pod thing so that may have been part of my problem. Mine never gave me the message about the wrong pod but would frequently blow up inside and make a huge mess to clean up. It seemed like it had a vapor lock or something because it would destroy the pods in the process of brewing. I gave up. Then one day I decided to take the filter out of the water tank and use only distilled water. It seemed to do the trick. No more blowing up cups. I found some k cups on sale in the brand of coffee I like and have been using those with no problem…until today! I pressed the on button to get the machine heating and proceeded to load the dishwasher while it heated up. I suddenly realized there was water running behind me. I turned around to find the Keurig running water all over! I thought for a split second I had forgotten to put a cup under but realized I had not set it up to brew yet. The display was reading “filling” which I had never seen before, I grabbed a cup and it proceeded to run until low water signal. I unplugged it thinking it would reboot or something but no it just wants to empty the water when I turn it back on. ????