Look to Younger Coffee Drinkers for Long-term Category Growth: Mintel

Although 66 percent of Americans have a daily cup of coffee, according to Chicago-based market researcher Mintel, sales have remained more or less the same in recent years, mainly because of the category’s loyal older customers. Mintel believes, however, that capturing the custom of younger coffee consumer could lead to steaming sales.

Currently, there’s strong demand for coffee among those age 45 and up, and over-55-year-olds represent the fastest-growing segment of coffee drinkers, but to sustain long-term growth, marketers will need to encourage younger customers to drink more coffee. Mintel research discovered that while 40 percent of 18-24-year-olds think coffee boosts their powers of concentration, just 27 percent imbibe the beverage every day.

“Young adults are somewhat more likely than over-55s to associate negative health consequences with coffee consumption,” explained Mintel senior analyst Bill Patterson. “Among young adults in particular, understanding the choice between energy drinks and coffee needs significant marketing focus. If coffee companies can’t convert these younger drinkers to everyday users, long-term growth may suffer.”

Another difference between younger and older coffee drinkers is that the younger ones prefer sweetened coffee drinks to plain coffee (40 percent of 18-24-year-olds vs. only 22 percent of 45-54-year-olds). Moreover, just 28 percent of 18-24-year olds enjoy the taste of black coffee, compared with 53 percent of 45-54-year-olds.

“Another obstacle coffee companies face when targeting a younger demographic is that they often prefer to visit cafes for their caffeine fix,” continued Patterson. “Offering products that are similar to those found in popular cafes, but can easily be prepared at home or at the office could prove successful with 18-24-year-old reluctant drinkers.”

Mintel's research additionally identified some interesting connections between coffee and the leisure habits of younger consumers. Twenty-two percent of 18-24-year-olds like to bring a cup of coffee along while running errands, while 46 percent say they like to kick back with a cup of coffee.

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