Costa’s head of product development, Beverley Philips, shares her hopes and thoughts for the year ahead

With 2009 shaping up as a year of economic difficulty, it could prove challenging for retailers to convince customers to spend on non-essentials. For my team and I, this year will be about ensuring our customers not only see coffee as an affordable and worthwhile treat, but also cakes and paninis. Having a wider offer across products and price points to match their needs and finances will be key.

On a broader scale, the continued blurring of the coffee shop market is resulting in a more complex consumer base. With so many coffee shops in so many different locations - such as airports, hotels, the high street, petrol stations and hospitals - we require an even greater understanding of the different customers to develop appropriate products.

There is also an increasing opportunity to develop certain products for specific customer needs. This is an exciting prospect for us in NPD, as it means greater development options are possible.

As such, it is important to work with suppliers, who are innovative in their development, willing to invest in consumer research, and who recognise the benefit of trialling products in-store to gain feedback.

Listening to our customers, increasing the level of new product launches, and having great suppliers working in partnership with us will make this year the most exciting yet.