Ready-to-drink coffee sales continue to grow as more consumers look for faster and affordable ways to enjoy their caffeine. Cold brew itself is estimated to reach over $5.48B by 2032. What are consumers looking for in this emerging field?
It's common for people to mistake cold brew for iced coffee. While both are served cold, they are crafted using entirely different processes. Iced coffee is brewed using hot water, essentially regular drip coffee that's cooled and poured over ice. In contrast, cold brew is made with a low temperature water, requiring a longer steeping time. This slow extraction process creates a higher caffeinated brew that's less acidic and less bitter but richer in flavor and smoother to drink. Consumers are turning to multi-serve cold brew as an affordable alternative to standard hot coffee. It’s gentler on the digestive system, stronger in caffeine content and the multi-serve offers a massive convenience.
In a Market Dominated by Big Brands — How Do You Stand Out?
For millennials, coffee is more than a product — it’s an experience. They’re willing to spend more on it, and see it as an affordable luxury. Millennials also value convenience. Grabbing a bottle of cold brew from a fridge or ordering a takeaway nitro cold brew is a quick and convenient way for them to experience specialty coffee. Millennials could also be choosing cold brew for environmental reasons. This demographic is more educated and knowledgeable than before, and they value ethical spending. They also are interested in brands that offer sustainability and eco-friendly products.
Private Label Beyond the Bargain
While studies have shown consumers greatly value products that check their ethical boxes (sustainable, organic, fair trade, etc) — the majority of brand name cold brews are leaving these boxes unchecked. Although inflationary pressures may have been the catalyst that prompted consumers to try more private label products over the past few years — shoppers have clearly come to expect a similar or better quality with private store brand offerings.
Consumers have a growing trust and loyalty for store brands — these products have evolved to become an extension of a new retailers’ brand and value proposition, which is reflected in the way that private brands are also playing a bigger role in how consumers decide where to shop for food.
Single count multi-serve accounted for 95% of total Refrigerated Coffee sales in 2023; 48oz took 55% of that share*
*©SPINS Proprietary Data: Latest 52 Weeks Ending December 2023 –Total US Multi Outlet + Natural Channel.
Coffee itself presents an interesting opportunityfor grocery brands to become closer with the customer, entering into a sacred and trusted ritual of a morning or afternoon cup. Thus, further deepening the trusted consumer-grocer relationship. The future of coffee is cold, it’s convenient and it’s regenerative, fair trade certified.