The top three beverages in the U.S. are water, soda, and coffee. Of these, coffee is the most prominent in our society, not so much because of its taste, but because of its social value
The value of coffee has significantly changed since our parents’ generation (the Baby Boomers) to our current millennial generation (1981-2000). For our parents, coffee held no social significance or value whatsoever except perhaps for a caffeine boost to start off the morning. They were more concerned about the cost and convenience of it, which meant most of the time they drank it in the home. Millennials, on the other hand, are far more concerned with the experience that comes along with drinking a cup of coffee. So much so, it would be appropriate to say that coffee is becoming its own culture.
I’ve noticed there’s something special about coffee, something personable about it. To understand why, it’s important to recognize that coffee is no longer a necessity for the home, but instead something that is socially expected and praised by our generation. This is where public relations has a great ‘in’ to the coffee world. I’ve formulated three building blocks that have placed this social label on coffee, and how public relations is at the root of the growth.
Coffee is a Culture
Drinking coffee is trendy. Going to a coffee shop and ordering a latte with a double shot of espresso and vanilla flavoring is even trendier. It is almost expected that a cup of coffee accompanies writing a paper, going to a class, driving, or meeting a friend. We know the phrase “Let’s get coffee sometime!” insinuates more than just getting a cup of coffee – it suggests doing something personal and relational, or ‘talking’. Phrases are sewn into decorative pillows or written on chalkboards in coffee houses that have formed our perception of coffee:
“Procaffeinating,” “A coffee a day keeps the grumpy away.” It’s all about the experience coffee brings, and that experience has formed a culture.
Coffee is a Status
Becoming part of the coffee culture provides a certain status. Individuals who call themselves ‘coffee addicts’, or claim they would fail at life if they didn’t have coffee, have enfolded themselves into coffee culture. Coffee is an established norm, and being part of that norm boosts an individual’s status in society.
Coffee is a Social Platform
Because coffee is its own culture and comes with a status, people want to promote that status through social media. There is something so aesthetic about posting a picture of the perfect coffee cup, right? (Such as the one used in this post..) This is where public relations gets
involved. They see the coffee industry as a whole; the culture that has formed and is now thriving.
Public relations is all about capitalizing on creating the experience, so that the customers do the promoting through social media/word-of-mouth.
This type of strategy is called earned media: the product (in this case, coffee) gains a promotional status through the public. This is different than paid media, such as buying a space for an ad or a commercial. Public relations and coffee culture go hand-in-hand; both are personal, build relationships, and are about the experience.
Public relations specialists understand what their consumers want, and in this generation everything is about being faster, better, and more accessible.
Getting coffee outside of the home is a culture trend because everything is mobile now.
Take Starbucks for example. Starbucks has recognized the fast-paced mechanisms of this generation, and has worked to make their coffee more accessible, and faster. They created an app so that you can place an order online and pick it up at your convenience. They have ready-made drinks, such as frappuccinos, at local stores so people can get them on the go. They’ve worked on making their service personable and something people feel a part of. They call their employees ‘partners’, and on their website they have multiple social opportunities for people to get involved and help the community. (https://www.starbucks.com/responsibility/community)
It all comes back to public relations, and how they communicate with the public to create an experience that will get their brand noticed.
So, coffee culture. When it comes to coffee, creating an overall reputation and culture that people want to be a part of is what matters. I see coffee as the continuance of something big for public relations, especially with how it relates to our current society’s demands.
Written By: Julie Olsson, Junior Account Executive