Coffee Shop Bar Counter

With Gen Z (ages 18–23) and millennials (ages 23–38) now the top consumers of specialty food and beverage, it pays to focus on the trends attracting these demographics. Here are a few ways younger consumers are steering the industry and how you can meet their many demands with a better beverage experience.

Hone In on Healthy

Spices and condiments for cooking on a black background

When it comes to food and beverages, Gen Z and millennials are more health-focused than their parents and grandparents, abandoning artificial products for more quality crafted options that offer function along with great flavor. From fresh botanicals and alternative milks to natural sugar substitutes, there are plenty of ways to cater to today’s customers who are looking for a healthy beverage with benefits.

Sell Your Story

Tea Farmers at work

Gen Z and millennials are more socially conscious than their predecessors; not only do they want to spend money with companies whose values align with their own, they are happy to pay more to do so. Whether it’s fair wages for workers, responsible sourcing or sustainable farming practices, younger customers are looking for a better story behind every product they consume. What does that mean for you? Look for ways to craft and communicate a meaningful brand message. From product origins to making a positive global impact, it’s a sales strategy that can turn a lasting impression into a loyal customer.

Craft a Culture

Boba / Bubble tea. Homemade Various Milk Tea with Pearls on wooden table.

For Gen Z and millennials, dining is about more than sustenance, it’s an experience, a reason to gather and a sharable moment in time. That’s why it’s important to think beyond standard offerings and incorporate more creativity. Gen Z is known for their more adventurous palates, so whether it’s unique herbs and extracts or a worldly spin on a classic blend, a more culturally diverse menu can help generate buzz without the added cost.

Think Beyond the Booze

assortment of fresh iced fruit drinks on wooden background

Compared to older generations like Gen X and baby boomers, Gen Z and millennials are becoming less interested in alcoholic beverages, a result of both a commitment to self-care and a better quality of life. This trend provides an opportunity for manufacturers and vendors alike to capture customers with more innovative craft beverages. Coffee, tea and food items that successfully combine flavor and fun are key to leveraging this increasingly popular market.

Stay Cool

Hipster Woman Drinking Iced Coffee Concept

While their parents and grandparents may have favored a steaming hot cup of coffee, Gen Z and millennial generations are decidedly cooler—especially when it comes to their beverages. Ranking as Gen Z’s most purchased drink, cold brew coffee still reigns as the beverage of choice. Credit the smoother flavor, or the way the more intensive brewing process caters to these customers’ desire for artisan products, but cold brew—or its sweeter sibling, nitro brew—is an essential menu item for anyone with a younger clientele. Despite the cold temperatures, there’s no off-season for cold coffees, allowing operators and manufacturers to profit year-round from this growing trend.

With these consumers poised to reshape the industry, it’s more important than ever to pay attention to their desires and demands. Incorporating these tips will help you to stay connected, relevant and ahead so that they’ll pay attention to you.