For a small archipelago in the Northern Hemisphere, the UK is a major player in the European coffee industry, accounting for more than a third of the total market of branded coffee shops.
Perhaps surprisingly coffee shops have been popular since the mid-17th century when intellectuals used them as ‘Penny Universities’ – somewhere to debate and discuss and share the latest trends and discoveries. Over the years its coffee culture became all but extinct with people choosing to drink instant or filter coffee.
Yet now the speciality coffee market in the UK is booming, as consumer knowledge and therefore interest is increasing. Despite the UK being a country with one of the lowest coffee consumptions in Europe – less than 3kg per capita – people still regularly visit coffee shops as part of their daily routine, or to socialise.
The UK’s branded coffee shop market is heavily dominated by the big players, with Costa Coffee, Starbucks Coffee Company and Caffè Nero taking almost 80% of the market share. Interestingly Costa, which is the leading branded coffee chain in terms of outlet number, is one of the lowest priced.
As the UK economy continues to recover, consumers are more confident, which in turn boosts the confidence in the industry and the vast majority of coffee sector executives believe that the current trading environment is positive.
A coffee is an affordable, often daily treat and as consumers discover more about speciality coffee from independent coffee shops, the more they want to embrace it and expect it from the larger branded chains.
Coffee is an industry with no clear demographic, spanning all age groups and affluence, but what are the key emerging trends?
Growth of speciality coffee
The growth of independent artisan coffee shops has inspired today’s consumer who is now more interested in coffee than ever before. As they discover more about coffee and move towards the higher-end of the speciality coffee spectrum, their desire for high-quality coffee increases and they expect this, not only in coffee shops, but also in pubs, hotels and restaurants.
Convenience of coffee shop location
Today’s consumer is time-starved and looking for a coffee shop experience that is quick and convenient. With so much choice, the coffee shops that provide high-quality coffee in an area that is best suited to the target market will thrive.
Consumer coffee knowledge
Consumers are already more knowledgeable about speciality coffee than they have been traditionally. These consumers now expect all coffee shops to offer a wide selection of coffees and brewing methods; to keep up with this demand independent and branded chains need to continuously innovate to ensure a valuable consumer experience.