As part of an Explorer changing habits research study, we looked at the in-café coffee habit and how companies can win back consumers as things begin to normalize after the pandemic. The in-café coffee get-together for work or social reasons is an important example of a habit that many consumers dropped as they started working from home.
Let’s face it, the in-café get-together was a nice change of scenery from a long day at the office whether meeting someone for work, socially, or just to take a break on your own.
Of all types of OOH coffee consumption, in-café declined the most with just 27% going into a coffee shop/café weekly on a work break for the past 3 months versus 39% Pre-COVID. Meeting at a coffee shop to see friends, business associates or to study also declined by 8%, 5% and 8% respectively.
The majority claim they will return to indoor and outdoor café use in the future, and the chance to get together with friends and over coffee/tea is what people are looking forward to the most. However, 30% expect not to “go in” for coffee as often as before, almost equally because they now make it at home and because of health and safety concerns.
Interestingly, women are more likely to be enticed back with deals, better service, and less crowded spaces than men. Women, more than men, also need to be reassured that there are safety protocols are in place, this being especially important for the smaller chains.
So, with coffee habits having changed dramatically, what do coffee retailers need to do to get consumers to reestablish the in-café coffee routine? Since people are more comfortable making food and beverage at home, cafes will need to be more unique to incentivize consumers to return.
Our research showed the following strategies were most important:
- Spacing – create a space that feels comfortable for socializing but also reflects consumers’ need for space.
- Health & Safety – In a way that feels welcoming and reassuring, communicate the measures taken to ensure health & safety. Open windows and doors, use fans and ensure bathrooms are well sanitized.
- Incentives – Incentivize with deals that encourage sharing and reconnecting with friends and family in safe, sanitized indoor and outdoor spaces.