According to new research, Mintel said that although two-thirds of Americans drink coffee every day, only 27 percent of those aged 18 to 24 drink coffee on a daily basis.
“If coffee companies can't convert these younger drinkers to everyday users, long-term growth may suffer," said senior analyst at Mintel Bill Patterson.
One reason for lower coffee consumption among young people is concern that coffee may not be healthy, the market researcher said. However, 40 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds believe that coffee improves their concentration, so part of the challenge for marketers is to differentiate coffee from energy drinks when targeting young people.
"Young adults are somewhat more likely than over-55s to associate negative health consequences with coffee consumption,” Patterson said. “Among young adults in particular, understanding the choice between energy drinks and coffee needs significant marketing focus.”
Younger consumers are also more likely to drink coffee at cafes, rather than at home, providing a further barrier to coffee marketers, he said.
"Offering products that are similar to those found in popular cafes, but can easily be prepared at home or at the office could prove successful with 18-24-year-old reluctant drinkers," he said.
Taste preference also varies considerably between different demographics. More than half of consumers aged 45 to 54 (53 percent) said they like the taste of coffee on its own, with only 23 percent expressing a preference for sweetened coffee drinks, Mintel found. However, among younger consumers, 40 percent said they preferred sweetened coffee drinks, and just 28 percent said they liked the taste of coffee on its own.