Developing the Next Generation of Coffee Devotees
Patricia Eggerton is 17 and she knows of what she speaks. “If you can’t go to someone’s house for whatever reason, then coffee shops are a good place to sort of meet up. It’s a comfortable atmosphere, they won’t throw you out, your parents aren’t there and it’s a good place to chill.”
Ms. Eggerton’s attitude, say experts, is common among a growing number of teenagers and helps explain the popularity of coffee houses such as Starbucks and Çaribou Coffee with this demographic.
Harry Balzer, vice president of the NPD Group, told the Washington Post, that although teens consume only about four percent of the coffee drunk in the U.S., “there’s no denying that it’s a growth market.”
One of the reasons behind the growth of kids spending their money in coffee shops is that parents are supportive of the practice. In fact, parents are often the ones who introduced kids to coffee shops in the first place.
Caribou Coffee CEO Michael Coles loves to see kids in his shops. “We want young people to grow up with Caribou and feel like it’s their place,” he said. “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that.”
Caribou Coffee has tried to make its shops more appealing to kids and their parents. Roughly one-third of Caribou locations have toy boxes and designated areas for kids to play.
Having younger children on the premises hasn’t hurt Caribou’s teen business either. Mr. Coles said the chain has seen a very large upswing in the number of teens hanging-out and spending money in its shops over the past year.
Starbucks has also profited from the number of teens and younger children visiting its locations, although the chain reports the majority of its customers are between 18 and 49.
Sanja Gould, a spokesperson for Starbucks, said although the chain recently sponsored the movie “Akeelah and the Bee” and offers flavored milks in child-sized cartons, it does not market to kids. The company, she said, sees itself as “a community gathering place” and offers a variety of beverage and entertainment products to meet the needs of those who frequent its shops.
Discussion Questions: Of what significance are the teens and small kids going to coffee shops now and in the years ahead? What can these businesses do
to make these younger consumers lifelong customers?