The Coffee Complex

Consumers want versatility from their coffee

It’s not just for breakfast anymore.

 
You would be surprised by what motivates coffee consumers. There is a complexity behind coffee buying.
 
The Hartman Group Restaurant Occasion Wheel found powerful differences in how coffee “can almost be two different products: an instrumental energy source, or a savory delight, depending on which demand the consumer places as primary in that particular foodservice occasion.”
 
While carbonated soft drinks are normally “the uncontested champ in restaurant occasions,” according to the findings, coffee (or espresso) is the largest beverage within two occasions: what The Hartman Group calls the “Solo Discerning Snack” and the “Solo Power Breakfast.”
 
Coffee either serves as a peripheral add-on or the forefront of the occasion. Of occasions where coffee was the only beverage and there was no food, 30% were Solo Discerning Snacks—by far the largest occasion.
 
The Solo Discerning Snack occurs when the consumer wants to be delighted by a high quality or artisanal snack from a restaurant. This means there is a strong connection between the demand for high quality and occasions that consist solely of coffee.
 
On the other hand, when the coffee was accompanied by food (but was still the only beverage), suddenly the Solo Power Breakfast is the top occasion, accounting for 14% of coffee and food restaurant occasions. The Solo Power Breakfast “is a restaurant occasion about fueling up for what could be an uncertain day,” stated The Hartman Group. “As such, the needs for energy and satiety are intertwined; the coffee and food are serving a married purpose.”
 
The Solo Power Breakfast occasion has average price sensitivity, but the Solo Discerning Snack is among the lower price sensitivities—only beaten by romantic outings, stated The Hartman Group.
 
“It seems that when the consumer is operating under what could be an indulgent whim that is still as a snack rather small, then it’s not difficult to pay more for higher quality foods or beverages,” according to the Hartman Group Restaurant Occasion Wheel. “However, as the Solo Discerning Snack with coffee happens far less than Power Breakfasts with coffee, artisanal coffee occasions may not be considered routine for mainstream America. It is still important to remember that Starbuck’s Reserve demonstrates that the occasion is scalable and a possible growth engine.”
 
In today’s hypercompetitive restaurant marketplace, targeting restaurant occasions is a more meaningful, relevant way to capture market share, it stated.