American consumers are largely aware that OCS provides them a convenience, but many do not know that it enhances productivity, and many believe they would purchase more from OCS providers if there were more specialty coffees available. In addition, most believe the quality of OCS coffee to be only average compared to coffee available from other sources.
These findings indicate that the OCS industry has made American consumers aware to a degree of the benefits it provides. But they also indicate that OCS operators could sell more coffee if consumers could be convinced they are receiving better quality coffee and more specialty options.
These are the results of the most comprehensive OCS consumer survey ever conducted. The survey was conducted by HarrisInteractive on behalf of the National Automatic Merchandising Association. The main objectives of the study were to understand the coffee drinking environment, to ascertain awareness and perceptions of OCS, to understand the OCS consumer, and to identify OCS growth opportunities.
The research was conducted in three phases, beginning with the employees who consume the beverages provided by their employer in the workplace. Consumers were asked why they use the office service, what keeps them there and what they'd like to see offered in the future.
The project also identified where consumers purchase similar products and services.
Besides OCS users, interviews were also conducted among the general population and account decision makers. A total of 3,232 U.S. adults 18 years of age or older were interviewed with a subset of 534 OCS users. The interviews were conducted from Sept. 6 to Sept. 13 in 2005.
Key findings of the survey
The key findings of the survey were as follows:
- A significant portion of office coffee drinkers do not know how they get the product.
- The OCS market is driven by perceptions of"convenience" and "price."
- Coffee purchased outside the office benefits from perceptions of "taste" and "quality."
- Almost half of OCS consumers never bring coffee to work.
- Consumers report that getting coffee from outside the office takes three times longer than from OCS.
- Most OCS consumers have not changed their coffee consumption habits due to caffeine concerns.
This survey marked the first attempt to quantify the savings that OCS provides over leaving the office to bring coffee back. The survey found consumers spend more than three times as much time away from the office if they leave the office for coffee, indicated in chart 7.
Key selling point remains worker productivity
This indicates that the time savings offered by OCS increases in proportion to the number of coffee drinkers in the office. For offices interested in maximizing employee productivity, this figure provides a strong selling point.
This finding is consistent with other parts of the survey confirming the key benefit that OCS provides: convenience.
When asked to describe the benefits that OCS provides, more consumers mentioned convenience factors than any other type of factors, as indicated in chart 17.
In recent years, however, OCS operators have faced rising competition from consumers who seek coffee more on the basis of product quality than on price or convenience.
OCS Still has a big selling job to do
While the findings indicate that the OCS industry has done a reasonable job educating consumers about the convenience it offers, the survey also found that the general public does not fully recognize the fact that OCS improves worker productivity.
Forty percent of consumers have no opinion on whether or not coffee supplied in the workplace has any bearing on productivity, as shown in chart 1. While more than twice as many people agree (32 percent) than disagree (17 percent) that coffee enhances productivity.