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The era of customisation

From the August 2018 issue.

Simple black or white with one sugar won’t cut it for today’s coffee drinkers. They want to customise every aspect of the beverage, including what they put in it.

customisationIn 1974, Burger King adopted the slogan “Have it Your Way” to communicate to patrons that they could customise their burgers – a novel concept at the time. But today, customisation is king, with most food and drink outlets adopting some personal characteristic to appeal to consumers who increasingly expect options for their varied diets and preferences.

The same is true in the coffee industry. In fact, some may argue that coffee is one of the most customisable drinks out there.

S&D Coffee & Tea has long partnered with Datassential to follow the evolution of these trends. “Years ago we did some extensive research on the hierarchy of needs for [coffee] consumers. Then, customisation was an enhanced need,” says John Buckner, Vice President of National Account Sales at S&D. “But recently we learned that customisation is now a fundamental right, and no longer an enhanced need.”

According to that research, which ranked the criteria consumers evaluate when choosing a venue for coffee, price and quality were the only factors deemed more important than the ability to customise coffee.

“Eighty-five per cent of consumers prefer to customise their coffee,” Buckner explains in a 2017 NCA webinar on the topic. “Fifty-four per cent of consumers will add to it further even after ordering a customised beverage from the barista.”

“You don’t have this level of customisation in any other beverage category,” says Mark DiDomenico, Client Solutions Director at market research firm Datassential. DiDomenico presented on the topic at this year’s National Coffee Association expo in March, with a focus on additives.

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