The competitive landscape and consumer trends are transforming the where, how, and what of coffee drinking in the workplace. Packaged Facts consumer survey data show that among full-time employed daily coffee drinkers who have drunk coffee at work within the last seven days, the office coffee pot remains king, with 50% drinking an office coffee pot brew while at work. Even so, almost a quarter (22%) drink individually brewed coffee from coffee pods/k-cups, among whom 70% use coffee pods/k-cups supplied by their employer. Moreover, while the office coffee pot is the most common way to grab a cup of coffee at work, it is also the option with which employees are least satisfied.
Convincing employers that office coffee service can increase productivity and morale -- and thereby justify the cost associated with office coffee service -- is key to the industry's future success. Many employees do use coffee as a productivity booster, and view high-quality office coffee as an important workplace perk. Packaged Facts data show that among coffee- drinking workers, 40% "strongly" agree and 43% "somewhat" agree that coffee helps keep them productive through the workday.
In addition, according to David Sprinkle, publisher of Packaged Facts, "opportunity exists for office coffee service providers that blend a wider variety of beverage options speaking to health and wellness." Wellness programs have continued to gain momentum in Corporate America to address skyrocketing health care costs and reduce absenteeism, along with enhancing productivity throughout the workday.
Significant challenges nonetheless remain for market. For example, while targeting coffee drinkers primarily means targeting breakfast, 71% of the 66 million full-time employed adults who drink coffee on a daily basis do so before they get to the office -- more people than drink it while they are at work. So the drive-thru or stop-in foodservice and coffeehouse/
The entrance of Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts into the single brew coffee space throws an additional wild card into the market. The OCS market may be undercut by single brew systems that allow consumers to swap in their own K-cups, already widely available to them via office supply vendors and big-box stores. Packaged Facts reports that single-brew systems and Starbuck's VIA coffee sticks are playing a major role in the decline in whole bean coffee usage among higher-income groups, and single-serves will have an analogous cannibalization effect on office coffee service sales.
At the same time, smaller office coffee operators face increasing competition from national contractors Aramark and Compass Group, which are aggressively growing their presence in office coffee service via acquisition. For smaller players, this will mean targeting locations with smaller headcounts, where national players will be less likely to tread.
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