While COVID-19 has permanently changed the coffee industry, global research agency Mintel and tea and coffee flavour developing company Beck Flavors, say creative coffee flavours is the way to kick start the return of “away from home” coffee sales.
“The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically changed work commutes and purchasing habits, and the coffee industry is no exception,” says Caleb Bryant, Associate Director of Food and Drink Reports at Mintel.
“The percentage of consumers who purchase coffee drinks away from home daily dropped from 51 per cent to 36 per cent.”
Beck Flavors adds that this challenge is even more difficult for small coffee shops that rely on walk-in traffic.
According to a study done by Mintel, 40 per cent of workers anticipate they will continue to work exclusively, or mostly, from home for the remainder of 2021. Survey respondents who said they bought less coffee away from home further attributed this to reasons such as saving money and commuting less.
Thirteen per cent of survey respondents further reported buying a new coffee appliance for the home to improve their coffee making.
With this shift in coffee consumerism, Beck Flavors believes that the industry can look to Gen Z and Millennials for hope.
“Sixty-five per cent of Gen Z’s cite flavour as the most important factor when purchasing coffee, so it’s important to consider the different flavour profiles that might work best in each coffee application,” says Nick Viriyasiri, a flavour scientist at Beck Flavors.
Caleb Bryant, of Mintel, reasons that Gen Z and Millennials look for drinks at coffee shops that they can’t replicate at home, often leaning towards sweeter, more “decadent” flavours.
He suggests as a specific strategy, using limited-time offers to attract and encourage young consumers to try a new flavour. Bryant cites the Funnel Cake Frappuccino from Starbucks as a good example of this strategy.
Another emerging trend seen in younger drinkers is an attraction to Cold Brew beverages.
“Cold brew coffee continues to appeal more to younger drinkers. As the fastest-growing coffee beverage, it’s showing 4.6 per cent growth year over year,” says Nick Viriyasiri of Beck Flavors.
Mintel’s study backs this finding with 62 per cent of millennial survey takers saying that paying more for cold brew was worth it compared to iced coffee.
Moving forward, Mintel predicts more workplaces will adopt a long-term hybrid model of working from home to give employees greater flexibility. Despite this, however, both Mintel and Beck Flavors say that with resilience and a drive to evolve, particularly with creative flavours and cold beverages, that there is hope ahead.
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