The preferences of adult consumers under age 45 are of particular importance to the office coffee service market, as this demographic makes up an increasingly large share of the workforce and therefore drives trends in the overall coffee market.
This is according to market research firm Packaged Facts in the recent report Office Coffee Service in the U.S: Market Trends and Opportunities, 4th Edition.
“As more Gen Z adults aged 18-24 join Millennials and Gen Xers in the workforce, even if as telecommuters, their preferences are becoming more important to the selection offered by office coffee service providers and employers,” says Jennifer Mapes-Christ, food and beverage publisher for Packaged Facts.
Over the last decade, the office coffee market has expanded steadily, aside from declines in 2009 and 2010 as a result of the U.S. recession. Factors contributing to growth included positive employment trends, moderate economic growth, and the need for companies to provide higher quality coffee and related benefits as part of broader employee retention/loyalty strategies and to help enhance employee productivity.
As in 2009 and 2010, Packaged Facts expects that the office coffee service market will be hit hard in 2020, falling by nearly 40% as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Packaged Facts anticipates the market will begin to recover in 2021 as many businesses are open for the whole year. Nonetheless, Packaged Facts does not expect the market will reach its 2019 peak by 2024 due to more people permanently working from home part-time or full-time, leading to a lesser need for coffee products in workplaces that had coffee service before the pandemic.
As mentioned, adults under age 45 are essential to future growth in the market. Younger consumers tend to prefer espresso-based beverages and cold brew, which bring a variety of sweeter flavors to the table. Sweeter blends tend to be more palatable to newer coffee drinkers than the more acidic and bitter flavors of traditionally brewed coffee. Coffee drinkers age 25-39 (aka Millennials) have led the increase in the consumption of espresso-based beverages. Many employers could offer more espresso-based beverages at work to appeal to this group.
The cold brew and espresso trend especially translates in the ready-to-drink coffee market of canned and bottled coffee beverages, which consumers age 18-44 are more likely to consume. Offering ready-to-drink coffee beverages at work via a pantry or coffee service or via a vending machine can better serve some consumers in this age range.
Younger consumers are also driving increases in the premium/specialty/gourmet coffee market. Compared to consumers aged 18-24 (aka Gen Z adults), coffee drinkers over 60 are more than twice as likely to consume traditional, “non-gourmet” coffee. Workplaces with more young workers may offer more specialty/premium coffees to appeal to their preferences, while older workforces may have more traditional options (e.g., Folgers, Maxwell House).
People under age 55 are also more likely to drink non-dairy milk alternatives than older consumers, an important consideration since many people add milk or cream to their coffee. Workplaces that offer milk with coffee should also consider plant-based milk options for people who prefer non-dairy milk or who have lactose intolerance.