4 New Ways To Connect With Millennial Coffee Consumers

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Millennials have a lot of feelings about their coffee.

Coffee consumption and purchase decisions among the youths are driven by emotions, according to new research from NCA member S&D Coffee and Tea and research firm Datassential.

“For them, coffee is not just a drink, it’s an experience, so descriptors that are solely focused on the bean (such as “bold” or “Arabica”) or basic needs (such as “fresh” or “convenient”) only address one component of the picture,” S&D reports. [Read the full study PDF.]

A big part of this picture is consuming sustainable coffee: 45% of participants say that they think more positively of purveyors who sell a sustainably sourced product, and a quarter claim that they would go “out of their way” to get it.

Yet data from the 2016 NCA National Coffee Drinking Trends shows that 28% of coffee drinkers don’t know if coffee is grown in a sustainable way. (Don’t try to trick them, though – Millennial customers are savvy and suspicious of unsupported claims.)

The market is changing fast, and many companies face unprecedented challenges. But this is also an exciting time for the coffee industry to tap into our potential. We have new opportunities to reach consumers through communication, passion, and innovation.

So how can you connect with the next generation of coffee lovers? Here’s what the latest market research says. 

The following is an excerpt from “What Are We Drinking? Understanding Coffee Consumption Trends

1. Technology

There’s an app for that. And if there isn’t yet, there will be.

The best way to reach the next generation of consumers is through their smartphone. To get (and keep) their attention, you need to offer a service, product, or information – it has to be interesting, and it has to be easy.

“Apps are changing the way that people are buying their coffee,” said David Sprinkle, Research Director, Packaged Facts, during a recent NCA webinar on food service coffee. But avoid a straight sales pitch, he advices. “Don’t just hawk your product, but provide information and services that are of interest to your consumer.”

Apps can also facilitate e-commerce opportunities. Nearly 70% of U.S. online adults shop on the Internet at least monthly, with 33% shopping online every week.

But don’t jump into the digital space before you’re ready. Millennials expect technology to just work – and will become quickly frustrated if they encounter friction.

2. Subscription services

Subscription services are becoming increasingly popular, for everything from makeup to produce. This format give coffee drinkers both a customized experience and exposure to new options.

21% of coffee drinkers would be interested in having readymade coffee delivered to their home or workplace, and 16% would consider having freshly roasted ground coffee sent to their home, according to the research agency Mintel.

Door-to-door delivery opens the door to more intimate interactions. By building relationships (and trust) over time, subscription services are positioned to educate and inform consumers on key issues facing the coffee industry.

3. Workplace coffee


70% of the cups of coffee consumed at work come from the office coffee area, according to 2016 NCDT data. Yet over half of the respondents said that they weren’t happy with their OCS situation.

Part of this shift in consumption place is driven by the changing day-to-day realities of younger professionals. With more Millennials working remote or sharing co-working spaces, they line between work and home blurs, creating interesting opportunities for OCS coffee companies.

The startup culture has embraced specialty coffee options, with many traditional organizations following the trend.

In 2015, Millennials surpassed GenXers as the majority generation in the workforce – so their influence in this area will only continue to increase.

4. Brewing gadgets

Younger audiences are immersed in technology, and are open to change. They’re drawn to new ideas and innovative products. This can be seen in the growing number of consumer-facing trade expos and new products hitting the market.

Consumers are increasingly invested in their coffee. The foodie-driven rise of online review culture intensifies consumer desire to have the “best” equipment for their favorite beans.

Many new preparation gadgets have been wildly successful on crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter.

Read the full post here.


The full NCDT report is available on the NCA website. The report includes an interactive platform to produce custom reports based on the NCDT data.

Learn more about the NCA 2016 National Coffee Drinking Trends Report.

Credits: Stocksnap.io; Giphy

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