Coffee Drinking Consumers
Avid coffee drinking consumers came to age in an era of extreme cultural changes, such as The Civil Rights Movement. They are workaholics who want to feel valued. They feel more comfortable in their own skin and have a stronger sense of purpose now than when they were younger. Health is a major concern, as they want to live full and independent lives. They are a significant presence on Facebook and YouTube and are more open to online ads than their younger counterparts.
- As initially stated, older Americans (50+) are undoubtedly the most avid coffee consumers. However, not all sources use the same classification. For instance, some reports refer to these consumers as Baby Boomers, others as over 50 adults, while some simply say "older adults." There are also some differences regarding how they define the generations. Therefore, this report is based on a mixture of Baby Boomers, avid coffee drinking consumers, and older adults, supplemented by Gen X and different age brackets data.
- Older adults are more used to changes than people presume, especially concerning different types of media. As reported by Forbes, "they've seen technology roll out new forms of media, and this is the generation that grew up with TV, were adults when "cable TV" became commonplace, saw the early development of the Internet and were middle-aged by the time the first "social media" companies came on the scene."
- Eighty-four percent believe social media is improving their lives. Since they spend less time on social media, they do not feel as saturated as Millennials and Gen Z. They use the platforms to reconnect to family and friends; thus, are likely to associate them with more positive emotions.
- Search engines are still the "go-to product research channel" for older adults, but social media is becoming more relevant. The following chart shows the relevancy of social media at different points of their consumer journey (B = boomers/X = Gen Xers).
- Forty-two percent of internet searches conducted by Baby Boomers start with “How to.” Only 30% add the word "best" to their queries, which are also shorter, with an average of 4.2 words.
- Boomers are 19% more likely to share content on social media than other generations.
- Boomers love nostalgia. The reason behind their infatuation may be a memory system called “presentism.” When people try to remember something, they create a collage of pieces of the present and fold them into their “recollections of the past.” Therefore, these memories are altered by the present situation and current perception.
- One-third of Baby Boomers use YouTube to learn about a product or service, which is probably related to the fact that they are 1.3 times more likely to prefer watching a tutorial video than reading instructions. Entertainment, music, and news are their favorite YouTube categories.
- They prefer live-action movies to animated films. Drama (91%), Thriller (83%), Action (88%), Adventure (92%), and Comedy (89%) are their favorite movie genres. As for TV shows, Drama takes the number one spot, followed by Comedy, Action, and Adventure.
- The top three favorite video content providers for Americans age 50-65 are CBS, Netflix, and NBC, as of 2018.
Streaming Services and Traditional Channels
- Deloitte surveyed multiple generations before (end of 2019) and after the COVID-19 crisis emerged (May 2020) to discover how their digital media consumption habits changes:
- Boomers are more likely than younger generations to adopt ad-only streaming options that resemble TV channels, as long as they are not extensive (seven to 14 minutes per hour).
- Consumers over 50 are starting to adopt the cord-cutting movement. Twenty-eight percent no longer have traditional pay-TV services, and 61% are watching TV content from online sources.
- Adults over the age of 55 are more likely to say reading a book is their preferred method to relieve stress (51%). Seventy-three percent say reading can help uplift their spirits and boost creativity (68%).
- Older consumers trust and read (75%) newspapers and magazines. Over 63% of the consumer base of publications such as USA Today are composed of people over 50.
- According to Nielsen’s 2019 report, older Americans spend most of their time watching TV.
- As of 2015, their favorite TV channels were CBS (12%), ABC (10.5%), NBC (9.6%), Fox (5.9%), and ESPN (5.4%).
- For adults over 60, taste is the number one factor they consider when choosing a coffee beverage. Those in their late forties and fifties value taste, but are more open to new flavors; in fact, 62% said they are actively trying new coffee flavors and textures.
- A taste for specialty coffee is often associated with Millennials. However, research has shown that consumption has been rapidly growing among Gen Xers and Baby Boomers. Weekly specialty coffee consumption went from 36% in 2016 to 52% in 2017 among the cohort, showing that they are more open to new experiences than some expect. Even among older consumers (over 65), consumption increased by 10% from 2016 to 2017.
- They are not as likely as younger generations to consume ready-to-drink coffee (RTD), but there is still significant consumption. Overall, consumers are looking for RTD coffee beverages options that offer added benefits. The most popular choices are "antioxidants (47%), promote brain health (40%), are anti-inflammatory (35%), or have added probiotics (30%)."
- One interesting fact about avid coffee consumers: those who like strong coffee tend to drink more coffee under bright lighting, and those who like weaker coffee drink more coffee under dim lighting. Additionally, when the coffee machine sound is harsher, people tend to feel like the coffee does not taste as good.
- Fifty-nine percent of boomers said they prefer to make their coffee at home because of the taste. Moreover, 78% reported that they do not research if their coffee beans are grown and sourced ethically.
- Jonas Feliciano, Kerry market & consumer insights manager, explains why older consumers are not fans of cold brews, saying they have a mindset that "they don't like black coffee or they want to add creams and sugars to their coffees." He further adds that cold brews' nutritional aspect is often underutilized, as its baseline "sensory experience is naturally smooth and even sweet in some instances fitting into the taste preferences of older consumers."
Interaction with Brands
- Adults over 50 are significantly less likely to make impulse purchases or to regret their purchases. Despite being less prone to buy a product to see if they will like it than younger consumers, they are still open to new products (65%).
- Hartie Chang, manager of product marketing for Adobe Advertising Cloud, explains, "For Baby Boomers, television was the medium they consumed the majority of their life, so marketers need a mixture of both traditional TV and digital channels to maximize impact."
- Sixty-nine percent of Gen Xers and 48% of Baby Boomers reported making a purchase after seeing an advertisement on social media.
- Choosing the right content to associate with brands is imperative for marketers hoping to attract older consumers, as 25% of Baby Boomers and 19% of Gen Xers would boycott a brand if they associated their ads with content they dislike, as opposed to 17% of Millennials and 15% of Gen Z.
- Older adults do not trust brands with personal information, with just 17% saying they believe a brand will “do the right thing” with their data. Seventy-one percent unsubscribe from brand emails if they are no longer interested.
- Moreover, while more than 80% would share their names with a brand, just 8% share details around their race, gender, or age. Nonetheless, they are willing to trade, with 73% saying they would trade their data for a discount or special offer.
- Older consumers are more open to ads than their younger counterparts:
- The fastest growing brands among Boomers in 2019: DoorDash, Impossible Foods, Ring, Kind Snack, Amazon Prime, Purple Mattress, White Claw, Postmates, Fiji Water, Venmo, Uber Eats, and Sargento.
- Older consumers are a neglected group. They have massive spending power and are a growing population, yet, marketers tend to ignore or portray them in a condescending or offensive light. A survey asked Baby Boomers about their perceptions of marketing directed at them, and 80% said they feel the message or offer was wrong.
- Research conducted by AARP shows that older consumers are often portrayed in negative stereotypes. For example, only 13% of marketing images show people older than 50 working, even though over 45 million are still employed. Martha Boudreau, AARP's chief communications and marketing officer, says, "recent ads have described being 50 years old as 'basically dead' and characterized older people as selfish and out of touch."
- Ads typically show these consumers as sick or dependent, often forgetting that celebrities like Julia Roberts, Halle Berry, Sandra Bullock, and Denzel Washington are all over fifty, explains Vaughan Emsley, co-founder of Flipside. AARP also found that people over 50 are more likely to be portrayed negatively.
- One of the reasons advertisers are reluctant to target older consumers is their reported unwillingness to try new brands and products. As reported by Forrester, only 39% of those in the 54-63 age bracket and 31% of those in the 64-74 bracket say they “enjoy trying new brands or products.”
- Since they are not a “quick win,” most marketers do not invest time or resources targeting older consumers, explains Forrester analyst Dipanjan Chatterjee. However, stats do not necessarily tell the whole story. Research has shown that even though younger generations are more likely to try new brands, they are also more likely to move on to the next. On the other hand, older consumers are willing to switch brands when presented with a more compelling offer and are more loyal to brands when satisfied.
- They also become advocates, says Vivendi Maria Garrido, Havas Group’s chief insights officer, “They want brands to provide content that’s educational, informative, and more than just entertainment. They’re more sincere in that when they have a good experience with a brand, 68% say they share it with other people.”
- Older consumers (50+) are less likely than their younger counterparts to be swayed in their coffee purchases by organic or ethical certificate claims, with the "exception of that from Fairtrade."
- Sustainability is something these older generations learned later in life; therefore, it is still less ingrained. For example, only 15% of coffee consumers above 55 in the UK believe "ethically sourced" is an essential factor when buying coffee, versus 25% of those in the 25-34 age group.
- Russell Braterman, global innovation director at Whitbread's coffee chain Costa, explains, "People tend to be more idealistic when they are young, but soon, they will have a mortgage and children and will have to balance their values against this." Still, they are not entirely indifferent to sustainability. Nielsen found that 62% of those in the 50-64 age bracket agree that it is important that companies implement programs to improve the environment.
- According to Edelman’s 2020 Trust Barometer, older consumers tend to trust the brands they use or buy (47%), especially those in the higher income brackets (52%). Sixty-three percent say that trusting a brand is more important today than in the past.
- 55+ adults are less likely to trust companies than younger adults. The verticals they trust the most are tech, food, medication, auto/transportation, and hotel/travel. They are least likely to trust fast casual/QSR, entertainment companies, and financial services.
- Over 55% of American Boomers and Gen Xers surveyed by YouGov agreed that “brands that express opinions on political or social issues are just trying to exploit them.”
Influences & Preferences
- Older adults are less affected by external influences than younger generations:
- They are not influenced by blog posts (3%) or social media influencers (3%). However, a story about a product in the news, magazine, or newspaper has an impact on 33% of those over 55.
- Edelman asked consumers “If a brand were to use each as their spokesperson to try and convince you they are a brand worthy of your trust, how credible would they be?” and discovered gaining their trust is truly a difficult task:
- These consumers are “changing the lexicon, shifting the focus from 'anti-aging' products and practices to 'pro-aging' ones.” They want to feel empowered by products that are preventive and proactive.
- According to FONA, this includes foods “designed to improve overall health and cognitive function as well as foods with medicinal properties that work for certain conditions. The current push for plant-based foods and foods with functional properties dovetails into this movement.”
- Preventive claims that attract the cohort include “gut, bone and joint health, antioxidants and cognitive function to protect, promote, and maintain health and wellbeing. Use positive terms such as ‘vitality’ or ‘longevity’ rather than positioning anti-aging functionality as something that requires a fight to maintain.”
- Many older consumers still consider themselves relevant and on-trend, a value that inspire their decision-making process. They are keeping up with trends in foods and beverages, sometimes through their Millennial kids.
- Bold flavors are gaining popularity as they have a desire to live a healthy and on-trend life. Biology plays a part in their preferences. As they age, their taste buds become duller, which often leads to changes in eating habits.
- Cannabis products have the potential to reach these consumers, as 77% agree that “products derived from or containing cannabis can offer wellness or therapeutic benefits.”
Brands and COVID-19
- It is not possible to discount the pandemic and its effects on consumers' attitudes. COVID-19 is changing how older consumers perceive brands and companies. As such, how brands behave will likely impact these consumers' willingness to buy from them in the future:
- Older consumers’ formative years were surrounded by extreme cultural changes, such as the rise of TV, the Women’s Liberation Movement, the Civil Rights Movement, and Woodstock. This generation is less influenced by peer pressure and more likely to believe in the “American Dream.”
- They see themselves as reliable (85%), down-to-earth (73.75%), and friendly (66.88%).
- For years people believe personalities were entirely set by the time someone turned 30. However, recent research suggests that personalities are much more fluid and malleable. For example, levels of Machiavellianism, narcissism, and psychopathy tend to decrease as people age.
- The stereotype of older people as grumpy may also be inaccurate, as they tend to develop a better sense of humor and be more in control of their emotions than before. As people age, they are likely to become more open, conscious, and present higher extroversion levels. It is a process called “personality maturation.”
- They are workaholics, who define themselves by their work ethic. They are goal-oriented but place a high value in the process. They want to know they are valued and want to make a difference.
Values & Attitudes
- As the average life span increases, the perception of aging becomes different. Twenty percent of Boomers claim they feel younger than they are. Evidence suggests that they do not want to feel or be perceived as old.
- A study from Columbia University revealed that “when confronted with negative age stereotypes, older adults tend to distance and dissociate themselves from this negative stereotype.”
- Older voters, in general, choose their candidates based on their stance on issues they care about (61%), experience (10%), electability (10%), personality (9%), and political party affiliation (9%).
- Older women voters believe securing the future of Social Security (69%), addressing the COVID-19 crisis (66%), ensuring the future of Medicare (62%), lowering healthcare costs (56%), and lowering the cost of prescriptions drugs (53%) are the most critical current issues.
- Thirty-seven percent of Boomers say the United States stands above all other countries in the world, and 61% say the US is the world’s leading economy.
- They are somewhat indifferent to same-sex-marriage, with 40% saying that allowing LGBT couples to get married does not make a difference for society, 37% saying it is a good thing, and 32% saying it is a bad thing.
- As of June 2020, 48% approved Trump’s government, 47% disapproved, and 5% said they were unsure. Among the different generations, they are most likely to have strong opinions either way (proportionally), with 38% saying they strongly approve of Trump as president and 43% strongly disapproving.
- Forty-six percent said they would vote for Biden, while 47% said they would vote for Trump in November.
- Forty percent said they have a great deal of confidence that police officers in their communities treat black people and white people equally, 31% said they have a fair amount of confidence, 14% said a just some confidence, and 14% said very little or no confidence at all.
- Fifty-five percent said that the demonstrations happening around the country due to George Floyd's death are legitimate protests, while 36% said they are mostly acting unlawfully. Forty-eight percent believe the police's response to the demonstrations is appropriate.
- Sixty-four percent believe Trump’s response to the events has increased tensions. Fifty-one percent describe the demonstrations as protests versus 42% who classify them as riots.
- Eighty-two percent report being exposed to ageism in their daily lives. Ageist messages are the most common (65%), followed by jokes about older people (61%), and hearing or reading something that suggests older people are unattractive or undesirable (38%).
- Forty-five percent say they experience ageism in their interpersonal interactions, with people assuming they do not know how to use technology because of their age (22%), will not be able to hear or see (17%), remember or understand something (17%), or people assuming they do not do anything important or valuable (15%).
- There is also an internalized ageism, with 36% believing that feeling lonely (29%) or depressed (26%) are just part of getting older. Those who feel more exposed to ageism are more likely to invest time and effort to look younger than their age.
- Unfortunately, older adults exposed to three or more forms of ageism daily had worse physical and mental health: “For example, older adults who reported three or more forms of ageism were less likely to rate their overall physical health as excellent or very good compared to those reporting fewer forms (34% vs. 49%). Older adults who experienced more forms of ageism were also more likely to have a chronic health condition such as diabetes or heart disease than those reporting fewer forms (71% vs. 60%). Those who regularly experienced three or more forms of ageism were less likely than people who reported fewer forms to rate their mental health as excellent or very good (61% vs. 80%) and more likely to report symptoms of depression (49% vs. 22%).”
- Despite ageist messages, 94% agree with at least one positive view on aging, and 51% agreed with all four of the following statements:
Lifestyle & Habits
- They are financially stable. Only 13% of adults over 55 are worried about making upcoming payments, as of July 2020. Only 33% said they are delaying large purchases due to economic uncertainty created by the pandemic, versus nearly 50% younger consumers.
- Surprisingly, instead of retiring, older adults are becoming entrepreneurs. As of 2018, the 55-64 age group represented 25.8% of all new enterprises. Men are motivated by the idea of being their own bosses. Women are trying to follow a long-held passion.
- Rhey want to launch their businesses at sunnier locations, typically Florida, Texas, and California, albeit New Jersey and New York are also popular. As for the sectors, business services, food/restaurant, health/beauty/fitness are the most common choices.
- They want to learn. A survey conducted in Australia discovered that 35% have an interest in studying, especially online (48%).
- As they age, older adults are becoming more focused on their health and wellness. Seventy-five percent are prioritizing their health, and over 50% say they plan to improve it. According to FONA, “Between 2010 to 2018, the percentage of Baby Boomers who say that health is an important value to them rose at a rate of 23 percent. The desire for comfort among this demographic climbed 12 percent.”
- Older adults are more likely to adopt and maintain healthy eating behaviors. They are also more knowledgeable about nutrition and health benefits, and are more likely to be cutting back on saturated fat (75%), salt (71%), and full-fat dairy (60%); to be eating more foods with whole grains (70%) and smaller portions (68%), and to pay attention to sodium (63%).
- A survey conducted by the International Food Information Council asked adults over 50 what health topics they consider more important:
- The survey also discovered that 86% are making an effort to replace less-health beverages with “more nutrient-dense options.” Eighty-eight percent believe it is never too late to make lifestyle and diet changes. Motivators include protecting long-term health and maintain independence.
- The impact of the health topics on their purchasing decisions:
- Before COVID-19, older consumers were more likely to shop for groceries in-store. Still, they were starting to embrace grocery delivery as part of their routines (one in three). Amazon Fresh (58%) and Peapod dominate the grocery delivery segment among these consumers.
- Interestingly, those who bought their groceries online were more focused on health and nutrition, as "those ordering grocery delivery are more impacted than the average consumer by healthfulness, brand, and sustainability":