The impact of millennials on the office coffee market

Offices are becoming the coffee houses of tomorrow and it’s because of millennials.

Although exact figures vary, studies have shown that millennials, or Generation Y, will make up around 50% of the global workforce by 2020. By 2025, this is forecast to rise to about three quarters. Meanwhile, Generation X, aka the baby boomers, are retiring in ever-greater numbers.

Millennials were born between the early 1980s and the late 1990s, reaching young adulthood in the early 21st century. Pew Research Centre suggests that in 2019 millennials will be between the ages of 23 and 38.

It’s becoming clear than millennials have different needs and expectations from the previous generation. They are ambitious, tech-savvy, health-conscious and demand a great work/life balance. They’re really into their coffee too. Numerous studies show that millennials are drinking more gourmet coffee than ever before, driving demand for gourmet coffee services in the office. According to the European Vending & Coffee Service Association (EVA), over 80% of Europe’s coffee machines are now located in the workplace. Research has also shown that companies that have implemented office coffee stations have increased productivity and department cohesion by up to 10% (PWC: Millennials At Work: Reshaping The Workplace).

What millennials want

Office coffee service (OCS) providers are in a great position but that doesn’t mean they can rest on their laurels. Demand is up but expectations have increased too. Millennials don’t just want more coffee. They want better coffee. They are less willing than the previous generation to put up with substandard products or services and will not hesitate to go elsewhere if their expectations are not met. As millennials become the dominant OCS users, it’s important for providers to understand this mindset.

Specifically, millennials expect the quality of the coffee specialities from a vending machine to be on a par with those from a coffee shop or bar. There is increasing demand for vending machines that use fresh milk and freshly ground beans. Millennials also care about the environmental impact of their coffee and frown upon non-recyclable and non-biodegradable cups. With the rise of certifications like Fair Trade, Organic and Rainforest Alliance, they ask questions like “where does this coffee come from?” and “are the workers treated fairly?” Likewise, they’re interested in cause-based coffee programmes where a percentage of each cup of coffee is donated to charity.

If your OCS organisation can deliver on these expectations, there are ample rewards to reap, particularly as millennials are more concerned about these matters than they are about price. This is a promising development for the coffee & vending space.

What can OCS providers do to meet millennial expectations?

Millennials often have very strong opinions about the different brands that they drink and are not shy about sharing them. A great first step would be to try and harness this information. One possible tool for doing this is to provide workers with a feedback portal to give you input about your OCS. This helps you keep an eye on the quality and range of your products and ingredients and create a more customised and satisfying coffee experience.

A strong coffee & vending field service management (FSM) system is also essential for maintaining the level of service that keeps millennials happy. Many OCS and vending providers are investing in better software to streamline and optimise their back office and warehouse operations, scheduling and route planning, and inventory management. This enables them to be efficient, nimble and customer-centric.

The fact that millennials are deepening the relationship between coffee and the office environment means there is enormous potential in this market. The key is making sure you have the right systems and resources in place to be highly responsive to the needs and expectations of the incoming generation of workers.

For more information about our FSM systems for coffee & vending providers and how they can help you grow your OCS business, contact sales@asolvi.com.

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