Big coffee shop chains losing the popularity battle, claims poll

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 26:  A barista at Sightglass Coffee makes a coffee drink on August 26, 2011 in San Francisco, California. Coffee shops across the country are being faced with the decision to raise retail coffee prices as wholesale coffee bean prices are surging. According to the International Coffee Organization, the daily average composite price of coffee beans has gone up nearly every day over the last 12 days.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Despite the seemingly unstoppable high street domination by the branded coffee chains, it’s independent coffee shops that consumers crave, according to the organisers of the Caffè Culture Show.

A study it carried out reveals that more than three in five (63%) consumers prefer to get their out-of-home caffeine fix at an independent coffee shop, rather than from a chain operator (26%).

Half (51%) would like to see the number of independent coffee shops increase while only 3% want to see the high street chains expand.

The UK’s discerning taste for speciality coffee shows no sign of waning, it seems, and expectations are high.

The quality of coffee served is the biggest motivating factor in choosing which coffee shop to visit (81%) and 83% refuse to return if quality is poor. Location (45%), great staff (31%) and ambience and atmosphere (29%) are the next biggest reasons that customers return.

Poor cleanliness and hygiene (49%), bad service (44%) and long waiting times (38%) are the surest ways to put customers off, after serving poor quality coffee.

The show’s Cafeconomy research highlights the extent to which coffee shops are now an integral part of life for many people.  Nearly half (48) of consumers visit coffee shops several times a week, and one in eight (12%) visit every day.  With consumers meeting friends and family (51%), taking time out to relax (28%) and eating meals and snacks (21%) there, coffee shops are clearly an extension of – or substitute for – home.

Event director, Cheryl Carroll, says: “This research shows the extent to which coffee lovers are crying out for something different from the omnipresent chain offerings. Their sheer number will always make them a convenient coffee stop, but it’s interesting to see how many are trying to replicate the unique experience and customer service that is synonymous with independent operators. The findings clearly show who is winning the popularity stakes with large numbers wanting to see growth in that part of the market.”

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