Coffee shop concepts - Macphie

The Macphie team recently conducted a workshop alongside specialist food suppliers, Andrew Ingredients, to showcase the key coffee shop trends impacting Northern Ireland and Ireland.

The coffee shop market is set to achieve growth of 26% during 2015-2020 with lunch being the most popular motive to visit a coffee or sandwich shop (Mintel). However, many consumers are still in a prerecession mind-set, being cautious with their spending, meaning coffee shop and sandwich shop owners face lunchtime competition from home-cooked alternatives.

Value for money

As consumers place value for money as a priority, favour is beginning to fall on local producers despite international brands dominating the market. Over half of Northern Ireland (55%) and Republic of Ireland (51%) consumers agree that hot drinks from other shops (e.g. bakeries and fast food venues) are better value for money than hot drinks from specialist coffee shop chains. Research also shows that use of local produce is driving demand. Some 48% of Irish consumers note that they would visit coffee shops, cafés and sandwich shops more often if they offered baked goods that have been made with locally sourced ingredients or from a local producer (Mintel, 2015).

Female friendly

Coffee shops are most commonly used by women with the key reason being to socialise with friends or family (Mintel, 2015). It’s important to provide products that meet all the senses as women are generally very receptive to all five senses. Females are also known to be more health conscious so providing healthier alternatives can be a key customer attraction.

Safety in familiarity

With consumer confidence slowly increasing, it’s important that food products on offer are something that the consumer recognises, which falls under a key trend we are seeing of safety in familiarity. Consumers are looking for classic dishes but also have a heightened expectation of how meals should be offered. Research shows that Millennials are driving the trend for ‘gastronostalgia’ with 60% searching for new ways to revamp their favourite recipes (Lapine). There’s demand for dishes ‘done better,’ and sub-standard servings will no longer be tolerated. Recipes can be easily adapted using finishings and toppings to provide an improved customer offering.

Appetite for newness

As consumers demand old favourites, research also suggests that diners are also becoming more adventurous with flavours. A study by Mintel (2016) shows that 48% of diners are always looking out for new dishes and 38% get bored if a menu isn’t changed frequently. An ‘appetite for newness’ is driving demand for street food eateries and pop-up stalls which can respond easily to customer feedback and key trends. An increase in food festivals and outdoor events are providing fantastic opportunities for these ventures to introduce their offering to the market.


Technology is also key with businesses being encouraged to embrace social media to engage with their customers. Mobile apps are also recommended to drive loyalty and glean vital data. Over a third (33%) of Republic of Ireland and 30% of Northern Ireland consumers noted they would visit coffee and sandwich shops more if they could use a rewards/loyalty app on their phone (as opposed to a physical card), with younger consumers more likely to feel this way (Puca, 2015).

As consumer tastes and lifestyles continue to adapt it’s important that businesses use market insight to enhance their offering.

For more information on the Coffee Shop Concepts event, contact Keri Cummings, Category Marketing Executive.