A Conversation With La Colombe’s CMO

Kathryn O’Connor, the first-ever CMO of La Colombe, has been leading the brand’s marketing for nearly 10 years. Since joining the company in 2023, La Colombe has expanded nationwide as both a café and a CPG brand with products like canned draft lattes. Last year, the company debuted a sweet chai canned latte, ran its second national ad campaign, and rolled out La Colombe K-Cups with the help of an investment from Keurig Dr Pepper. The biggest announcement came in December when Chobani acquired the coffee company for $900 million.

As O’Connor approaches her first year as CMO, she is excited for the brand’s future as it brews its future plans. She is starting to consider herself a CPG marketer, but she doesn’t think of La Colombe as being a CPG-first brand. The cafés will always be a big brand-builder for the company and always connect through to the product.

In addition to expanding its café footprint in recent years, La Colombe has started bringing its brand into more hospitality settings. The brand has partnered with companies like American Airlines, which serves La Colombe coffee in its Admiral Club lounges, and the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas. The Admirals Club has been a very surprising, successful relationship, and the team is proud of that engagement.

La Colombe has also embraced cause-driven partnerships, including working with the ACLU in 2020 on a voter registration drive and a special roast, Lyon, which directs a portion of its proceeds to the organization. O’Connor’s team is currently working on their strategy with the nonprofit around the election this year. They are also experimenting with things like using AI for customer surveys on social campaigns and striking up student ambassador partnerships.

Another thing La Colombe is working on is some “architectural touches” on its branding. The brand’s latte cans previously underwent a redesign in 2022; the forthcoming changes are designed to seamlessly tie “the heritage credibility” between its cafés and products together.

As La Colombe enters a new phase under Chobani’s ownership, O’Connor anticipates positive change. She believes that Chobani has years of experience selling into cold chain and grocery, and there are lots of opportunities for cross-collaborations. In other words, don’t be surprised if you see more Chobani coffee creamers at La Colombe cafés in the future.

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