COFFEE GROUP GETS STEAM UP TO PURSUE GEN XERS

MIAMI -- Retailers need to stock a wider variety of coffee and install coffee bars that offer that freedom of choice if they are to succeed in getting the Generation-X shopper to pick coffee as a favorite drink, said a leading consultant.Michael Adams, president of Environics Research Group, Toronto, said having coffee available when, where and how consumers want it is becoming more important in modern

MIAMI -- Retailers need to stock a wider variety of coffee and install coffee bars that offer that freedom of choice if they are to succeed in getting the Generation-X shopper to pick coffee as a favorite drink, said a leading consultant.

Michael Adams, president of Environics Research Group, Toronto, said having coffee available when, where and how consumers want it is becoming more important in modern society.

"The growing focus on personal choice is an opportunity for the coffee industry to position premium coffee and the more expensive products, like lattes, espresso and cappuccino, as a personalized service and a freedom," he said last month at the 87th Annual Convention of the New York-based National Coffee Association, held at the Doral Golf Resort hotel here.

"This is a culture that worships freedom and choice. Every individual has his or her own choice; there is a coffee out there just for you," Adams said.

To compete against soft drink, beer and New Age beverage companies, the coffee industry must modernize its ad campaigns and reposition the drink, Adams said.

"Coffee drinkers skew older, but the coffee industry cannot count on the aging of the population to expand the market. You have to understand the values of those who are currently young and how they can be attracted to coffee. You've got to go after the Gen-X young adult," he said.

"I am urging you to get more with it and realize the emotional intensity in the culture to connect with friends, take a break, and express one's personal autonomy and personal taste with something cool and hip that young people do," he told an audience composed mainly of coffee roasters and importers.

Adams said although the Generation-X young adults are price sensitive, they will pay a premium for brand-name beverages, Nike products and anything else that conveys a cool and upbeat image. By repositioning their coffee brands and coffee aisles, coffee manufacturers and retailers can also capitalize on some of that business.

"Drinking coffee away from home and at a time other than morning can also be positioned as an expression of personal freedom in this coffee culture.

They'll drink coffee when and where they want to," Adams said.