No 30

How to Better Communicate the Value of a Colombian Coffee Brand to Millennials

August, 2016


How to Better Communicate the Value of a Colombian Coffee Brand to Millennials

A recent study, which summarizes a hierarchy of basic, enhanced and elevated needs, helps better understand Millennial specialty coffee consumers. And Café de Colombia is a great starting point and partner to continue positioning a coffee brand taking into account these needs in a holistic manner.

Millennials are the population group between 18 and 34 years old. They have been the focus of most industries because of their consumption potential. According to Forbes, in 2025 this generation will account for 75% of the world’s workforce, so it is key to understand them also in the specialty coffee industry. A recent study by S&D Coffee & Tea explores how this generation understands specialty coffees in the United States.

Because of the study’s relevance, we share with members of the 100% Program a few key points to be kept into account when communicating the differentiating values of their products in the specialty coffee category.

Non-negotiable and differentiating features
For Millennials, a coffee is not special because a single feature. For them, coffee is part of a comprehensive experience. “They are deeply connected to coffee on an emotional level. For them, coffee is not just a drink, it’s an experience”, the study reads.

This applies to products (coffee brands) and specialized cafés. To better understand how Millennials define their experience, it is important to categorize their coffee needs:

  • Basic needs or minimum requirements: these are non-negotiable expectations; if a coffee (shop or product) does not meet them, it will not interest a Millennial. The minimum requirements include price, taste, basic customization (type of roasting), consistency, cleanliness and convenience.
  • Enhanced or added-value needs: these features improve perception of coffee by a Millennial, but not necessarily are ground breaking. Added value is defined by expanded customization options (origins, flavors, types of roasting, seasonal offerings, targeted promotions, confortable atmosphere).
  • Elevated needs or specialty coffee factors: these are higher-level attributes with real potential to elevate coffee experience and usually aligned with Millennials’ values that are not part of a limited list.

Understanding elevated needs of Millennials
Like in a scale, Millennials know what they are looking for and are not willing to negotiate minimum requirements of their coffee. Elevated needs enable them to judge products once the basic expectations are met and are closely related to how the products they buy are aligned with their values. (See graph)

Sustainability, for example, is one of issues with which this generation is more identified and even if the concept doesn’t have a single definition for them, it does play an important role in purchasing decisions.


Data taken from “Millenials: The Language of Coffee…” by S&D Coffee & Tea

In previous issues, we have explored how the future consumer will be like and how coffee brands should seek to align with their values to differentiate themselves in the market.

All of these factors must be taken into account, as the same study shows that origin of coffee beans influences this type of consumer’s purchase decision as much as a brand, and a little less than roasting level (the latter in line with a recent NCA study). With all this information, the question remains: How to communicate the value of a specialty coffee brand in an effective way to Millennials?

The right mix
Successful specialty coffee brands tend to achieve a balance in their specialty features (a sustainable coffee or a single origin), without neglecting the product’s non-negotiable features. An appropriate combination of features to be communicated by brands must thus include the non-negotiable ones (which requires a research of the markets where the brand is to be sold to identify preferences) and a value proposition that helps identify coffee as specialty.

General statements about a brand’s sustainability and authenticity are not enough to communicate value; it is recommended that the brand is supported by a narrative or a story; otherwise, consumers will hardly identify themselves with it.

To take advantage of this new generation of consumers’ preferences, the 100% Colombian coffee brands have as support and starting point the coherent and comprehensive narrative of the Colombian origin, including the purchase guarantee (fair trade through transfer of best basic price to farmers); cutting-edge scientific and technological research that differentiates Colombia from any other producer country; economic, social and environmental sustainability (with programs such as Manos al Agua), and the great diversity of flavors and cup profiles offered by Colombia’s different coffee regions, among other distinctive features.

You are invited to learn more about our coffee family and our products, visiting the BEAN & BEYOND sections on the top of this page.