Coffee isn’t just a way to caffeinate in the morning. For Millennials, selecting coffee is an emotional experience. The social and environmental effects are vitally important to Chicago Millennials. While freshness and affordability are still important, a new survey shows that Millennials are emotionally connected to coffee’s history.
What the survey says
According to an online survey (of more than 900 Millennials), “The language Millennials use and the attitudes they have indicate that they are deeply connected to coffee on an emotional level.” The study was conducted by Datassential (a Chicago-based foodservice research firm) and published by custom coffee roaster S&D Coffee & Tea, who added, “For them, coffee is not just a drink, it’s an experience.”
The opinions of Millennials are important because they are current and future consumers. John Buckner, S&D Vice President of Marketing says, “The magnitude of this generation [Millennials] is such that we know their attitude toward coffee will significantly impact our customer’s growth for years to come; we’re excited about being able to better understand their preferences and perceptions and how those evolve over time.”
The survey results indicate a strong preference for knowing how the coffee they drink is grown and harvested. As a result, sustainability determines if Millennials will buy coffee in most situations. How is the coffee helping socially, environmentally, and economically? In other words, Chicago Millennials believe in being smart consumers, whether that’s branded coffee or brewed at home.
If you want to reach Millennials, offer sustainably sourced coffee. The study said, “Sustainable sourcing is a consistently powerful term whose influence extends beyond just improved perceptions around an operation’s coffee offerings.”
About 45% of Millennials feel better about places that offer sustainably-sourced coffee. This was most important to them, even above Fair Trade Certification, USDA organic, locally-sourced, direct trade coffees. Additionally, more than a quarter would go out of their way to obtain sustainably-sourced coffee. The “vast majority” of Millennials would also “be willing to pay a small premium for coffee that is sustainably sourced,” the survey stated.
Interestingly, only 22% of Millennials knew the exact definition and specific requirements necessary to qualify as sustainable.
What the survey means for you
When offering coffee to Millennials, it’s clearly effective to use coffee that sustainably sourced. Yet, the survey noted that it has a chance of backlash. If the Chicago consumer thinks it’s being used insincerely, they may avoid it altogether. “Use of coffee terms as mere labels will render them powerless to sharp-eyed Millennials who are increasingly skeptical of unsupported language,” the survey noted. Choose your coffee with caution and wisdom. Do you believe that the coffee brand is sustainably sourced? If not, then Millennials probably don’t either.
Slightly over 40% of consumers associate organic with sustainable, the study found, with a little over 30% associating sustainable with Fair Trade Certified or environmentally-friendly harvesting practices. Only 22% associate sustainable with better taste and even fewer (only 15%) associating it with better aroma. Environmental factors were also more important than labor practices and social impact.
Best solution for you
If Millennials are drawn to sustainable sourcing, the coffee you offer must be truthful. Furthermore, there needs to be easily accessible specifics about the chosen coffee brand. If “sustainable sourcing” is just slapped onto the coffee, Millennials may see it as dishonest. Thus, there must be proof of “sustainable sourcing” or it will be worthless. If the coffee says it is “sustainably sourced,” along with other well-known labels, it will make Chicago Millennials trust the coffee offered. In fact, having a list of what makes coffee “sustainably sourced” in a millennial workforce break room might be powerful when paired with a coffee that is truly sustainably sourced. Essentially, be honest and transparent when appealing to Millennials’ coffee needs, and they will love your coffee.