Research: 'hot buttons' for growth and key consumer coffee taste profiles

The Automatic Merchandiser State of the Coffee Service Industry Report, published in September, revealed several “hot buttons” for OCS operators looking to grow the business. They are:

  • Reinforce the OCS message. OCS remains one of the most affordable employee benefits.
  • Engage the customer. Use the Internet and social media to engage the customer. This creates opportunities to build the ticket.
  • Cover more day parts. OCS offerings extend beyond the morning coffee. Afternoon “pick me ups” include milk-based drinks like cappuccino and latte, iced coffee, iced teas and hot tea.
  • Invest in service and delivery. All employees need to be OCS ambassadors. The strength of the company’s message is as strong as its weakest member. Commit to ongoing coffee education for employees.
  • Plan your attack. The OCS customer’s needs change as more products are introduced at retail. OCS companies must have a business plan and review it at least annually with respect to changing customer needs.

Key taste profiles

In addition to these hot buttons, consumer research sponsored by Mars Drinks North America indicates several key coffee taste profiles that collectively cover all consumer needs. Company officials said consumer feedback indicates these profiles are consistent in all geographic U.S. markets.

By tailoring OCS offerings to these distinct profiles, operators can increase their sales. The profiles are: light and smooth, dark and intense, medium and bright, and medium and balanced, in the market share noted in the accompanying chart. Mars Drinks North America has also identified having the right tea assortment at work can impact customer satisfaction:

  • Select green, English breakfast and raspberry herbal tea will satisfy 49 percent of the consumer needs.
  • Adding white with orange tea to the above assortment will satisfy 60 percent of the consumer need.
  • Adding chai ice spice and peppermint herbal to the above will satisfy 75 percent of the consumer need.