21st century hot drinks: Gen Z out-of-home trends

Shifting trends in the out-of-home hot beverage consumption of younger consumers highlights significant opportunities to target efforts for optimal returns.
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CGA by NIQ’s, Hot Beverages Spotlight Report reveals that 76% of Great Britain’s out-of-home consumers enjoy hot and/or iced beverages, but now younger generations are steering away from traditional hot coffee.


Despite remaining in favour with 63% of British consumers overall, hot coffee is showing a -18pp decline below the average with Gen Z.  Nonetheless, they’re far from calling time on the hot beverage category. Even though their love affair with coffee is currently on a downward trajectory, there’s a notable surge in their overall hot beverage purchases, with a +13pp increase vs 2022.


Gen Z’s diverse choices reflect their taste for experimentation. This is evident in their over-indexed preference for hot chocolate (+14pp versus. average), iced coffee (+16pp), and iced tea (+16pp). In addition, Gen Z demonstrate a broader engagement with flavoured teas, such as green (+13pp) and matcha (+9pp) teas.


A telling factor of Gen Z’s beverage consumption is the desire for customisation. There’s a high expectancy for alternative plant-based milks, with mainstream options like oat (38%), almond (32%) and soya (24%) being the most popular. This is accompanied by an appreciation for varied syrup flavours and staff recommendations.


So, what are the implications for the On Premise? It’s key for suppliers, wholesalers, and operators to understand and integrate in-demand drinks to appeal to younger consumers. As Gen Z’s relationship with hot beverages evolves, there’s a compelling opportunity to leverage the Report’s insights for inspiration – creative recipes and serving suggestions are key for meeting the demand for customisation and flavour diversity.


The need for creativity extends to price besides product. It’s equally important for brands and operators to recognise the impact of pricing on consumer choices as consumers tighten their purse strings. Appropriate costing enables the adaption of the preferred formats driving these trends.


Andrew Hodgson, Senior Business Development Manager said: ” The out-of-home can better meet the needs of this crucial consumer segment by focusing on innovation, customisation, and understanding the dynamics of price and format preferences. The Hot Beverages Report underlines how to win by tailoring product development, brand activation, and marketing strategies to align with evolving consumer and Gen Z preferences.”


The Hot Beverages Spotlight Report, part of the Food Insight Series, gathers the hot drink habits of out-of-home consumers across Great Britain, to provide an understanding of who the hot drink consumer is, what their preferences are, as well as threats and opportunities to help inform and shape a winning hot beverage strategy.


Click here to download more information, or contact Andrew Hodgson, CGA by NIQ Senior Business Development Manager, here.


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