Coffee: the irrational behaviour that defies austerity

To quote the Evening Standard on 3rd January before the news of the verdict in the Stephen Lawrence case broke,

‘New research shows that Londoners are more addicted than ever to their daily latte, cappuccino or flat white and are searching out quality coffees.

Sales are up overall by about 10 per cent (now twice the level of 2005) and a new wave of artisan espresso chains has sprung up in London despite fears of a “double dip” recession.

 About 35 independent coffee bars opened in London last year compared with 56 cafes belonging to big chains.’

However, they are increasingly second or third branches of bars set up by passionate “caffeine-heads”.

This suggests a couple of interesting things that we should take note of when planning for 2012 and beyond.

1) London (and the South East) is a market of its own and consumer behaviour is potentially diverging even more from the rest of the U.K. This poses some significant marketing challenges to national plans and national messages that underweight the area.

2) Routines trump rational behaviour: coffee breaks help people navigate their day. The product is over priced and potentially means that someone is having to economise on their lunch. However the sacrifice is deemed worth it by thousands of squeezed punters.

So when planning for tough times in 2012 don’t assume that people will react the way that you might logically expect in all categories.


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