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CHICAGO – Although 66 percent of Americans drink coffee on a daily basis, coffee sales have been relatively flat. But appealing to the younger coffee consumer may be just what the market needs to heat up, according to recent research by Mintel.
The demand for coffee is strong among those aged 45+; over-55-year-olds are the fastest-growing segment of coffee drinkers, according to Mintel. While 40 percent of 18-to-24-year-olds believe coffee improves their concentration, only 27 percent drink it daily.
"Young adults are somewhat more likely than over-55s to associate negative health consequences with coffee consumption," noted Bill Patterson, senior analyst at Mintel.
"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."
Younger coffee drinkers also differ from their older counterparts in that they prefer sweetened coffee drinks to plain coffee (40 percent of 18-to24-year-olds want a sweet drink, compared to only 22 percent of 45-to-54-year-olds). Furthermore, just 28 percent of 18-to-24-year olds like the taste of coffee on its own, compared to 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," Patterson added. Mintel's research also highlights some interesting links between coffee and leisure habits of younger consumers. Some 22 percent of 18-to-24-year-olds like to have a cup of coffee on hand when they're running errands, while 46 percent say they like to relax with a cup of coffee.