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How Gen Z Consumers are Shaping the Future of Coffee

Knowing your core customer audience is vital when running any kind of ‘Coffee on the go’ outlet. The better you understand your customer’s needs and preferences, the more you can do to engage with them and deliver the coffee trends they’re looking for.

But with Gen Z coffee consumers now becoming a core audience in the coffee market, how do you successfully engage with, target and satisfy this emerging generation of young adults?


Who sits in the ‘Gen Z’ demographic?

Generation Z, or ‘Gen Z’, is the demographic cohort that follows on from Millennials. It’s usually accepted that the Gen Z demographic were born in the late 90s/early noughties. Gen Z consumers attitude to life differs from the preceding Baby Boomer, Gen X and Millennial generations – and that’s likely to affect their buying habits (and your ability to sell to them).


Members of Gen Z are:

  • Driven and extremely career-oriented
  • Image conscious and aware of trends
  • Looking for the best brands and the highest quality
  • Leading active lifestyles – they’re rarely at home and habitually ‘on the go’
  • Digital natives who live their lives through apps and social media


Coffee as an integral part of a Gen Z lifestyle

To understand the relationship “Gen Z and coffee”, the first thing to keep in mind is that drinking high-quality coffee has become a commonplace choice in recent years. Gen Z consumers have grown up with barista-style coffee as an integral part of their life – it’s not an occasional or ‘luxury’ item; coffee is a foundational part of their day-to-day existence.


Buying habits and trends underline the pivotal role of coffee for Gen Z:

  • Most drink coffee out of home every day – 86% of Gen Z consumers have bought coffee out of the home in the past three months*, with Gen Z having a clear expectation that high-quality coffee should be available on the go.
  • Many buy coffee multiple times a day – Gen Z coffee lovers will purchase several different cups of coffee throughout their average day – and will vary the style and customisation of the coffee they buy.
  • Most consider coffee an affordable and pleasurable necessity – due to their relatively high levels of disposable income (no children, no mortgage, decent salary), Gen Z consumers are willing to spend their hard-earned cash on coffee and other beverage choices that meet their evolving needs.


Changing expectations of the quality of coffee

Coffee has moved up in terms of quality in the last ten years, with the baseline quality of even the most standard coffee being much higher. However, the usual coffee value drivers are slightly skewed when we look at Gen Z and coffee preferences:

  • QUALITY (BRAND) – quality and brand are pivotal for Gen Z buyers. A low-quality instant coffee will be quickly dismissed, as will mass-produced chain-bought coffee.
  • CONVENIENCE – Gen Z coffee aficionados want their coffee on the go, but only if the product offered meets their high standards of quality and brand values.
  • PRICE – many older coffee consumers will factor price into their decision-making. But Gen Z consumers are less concerned about price if the coffee matches their standards.


Tailoring ‘Coffee to go’ for a Gen Z market

Eight seconds is the amount of time Gen Z spend on average determining whether to engage with something**. So, any new generation of on-the-go coffee machine must quickly attract and engage the younger demographic, while also overcoming the key Gen Z hurdles.


A Gen Z-ready coffee experience has to offer:

  • Enhanced convenience and improved quality
  • Additional personalisation options
  • Innovative technology and UI
  • One-click payment
  • App integrations
  • Digital loyalty schemes etc.


Introducing NESCAFÉ AZERA®

Our NESCAFÉ AZERA machine provides an innovative solution to the "Gen Z and coffee" challenge. Old-fashioned, traditional coffee machines are out, and in comes a coffee-vending experience that’s tailored to a new generation of coffee connoisseurs.


The NESCAFÉ AZERA coffee to go experience:

  • Sparks curiosity – machine supports the NESCAFÉ AZERA masterbrand campaign message of ‘Stay Curious’, providing a new, innovative approach to coffee vending that will resonate with the Gen Z demographic and your potential younger customers.
  • Personal touches – NESCAFÉ AZERA machines offer more personalisation and tailoring of choices – syrups, chocolate, tea, etc. – all of which are included in the standard RRP, so Gen Z users can truly customise their beverage.
  • Impactful and innovative – our new technology, design, payment options, and modern UI help the NESCAFÉ AZERA machines appeal to the emotional and functional drivers of the Gen Z demographic – making your business stand out as a destination point.
  • To futureproof your coffee offering, it’s crucial to capture and monetise the expanding Gen Z customer audience – and we believe that the innovative benefits of a NESCAFÉ AZERA machine will transform and re-invent your in-store, self-vending coffee proposition.

Find out here.


* Mintel, Coffee Shops, UK, December, 2018

**PostBeyond, Millennials vs. Generation Z on Social Media, February 2019