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Cool Beans: Summer Coffee Update

by 
Bracha Arnold
 on 
July 27, 2023
Cool Beans: Summer Coffee Update

Summer is upon us; to many, that means stopping into their favorite coffee shop for a refreshing drink. And though the coffee segment has seen its share of ups and downs over the past few years, the easing of inflation may once again be providing the segment with a boost. With the year's first half behind us, we check in to see how several major coffee chains are faring.

Positive Year-over-Year Trends

Starbucks, Dunkin’, and Dutch Bros, have all seen strong foot traffic into H1 2023. Dutch Bros. in particular – which is implementing a long-term expansion plan – has continued to see foot traffic growth, with an impressive 45.5% increase in foot traffic in June 2023 compared to the same period in 2022. Starbucks and Dunkin' have also experienced steady visit growth throughout the analyzed months, with year-over-year (YoY), positioning the coffee leaders for a successful second half of 2023.  

Demographics Define Different Drinkers

So what’s driving visits to these brands? Continuing to innovate drink options and improving app loyalty certainly helps. But diving into the demographic data reveals that the three coffee shops cater to specific consumer segments, offering something for everybody.

Starbucks and Dunkin’ have similar median HHIs in their potential markets* – $70.3K/year and $70.9K/year, respectively. But while the median HHI in Dunkin’s potential market is slightly higher than that of Starbucks, the median HHI in Starbucks’ captured markets** is around 7.5% higher than the median HHI in Dunkin’s captured market ($78.6K/year compared to $73.1K/year). This indicates that although Starbucks and Dunkin’ venues tend to be located in areas with similar economic profiles, customers that choose Dunkin’ may be slightly more cost-conscious than those who favor Starbucks. Still, both brands appear to attract a relatively affluent crowd – both Dunkin’ and Starbucks’ captured market median HHI is higher than the median HHI in their potential markets, 

Dutch Bros., meanwhile has a relatively high median HHI in its potential market ($75.1K/year) but a lower median HHI in its captured market ($68.6K/year) – despite the company’s somewhat premium pricing. The company’s ability to create a premium product that attracts a strong demand even among lower-income households speaks to the popularity and continued growth potential of the chain. 

* A chain or venue’s potential market refers to the population residing in its trade area, weighted to reflect the number of households in each Census Block Group comprising the trade area. 

** A chain or venue’s captured market refers to the population residing in its trade area, weighted to reflect the actual share of visits from each Census Block Group comprising the trade area. 

Audience segmentation metrics from the Experian: Mosaic dataset also reveal differences between the three brands’ visitor base. Starbucks draws a higher percentage of visitors from areas with families (“Flourishing Families” – 7.8%) and older adults (“Booming With Confidence” – 11.0%). Dutch Bros., meanwhile, seems to attract a younger demographic, with 15.6% of households in its trade area falling into the "Singles & Starters" category – young singles embarking on their careers in the city. And Dunkin’, in keeping with its positioning as a chain that offers something for everyone, has a customer base more evenly distributed among young families, singles, and older households.

Starbucks In The Winter, Dunkin’ For The Summer

But demographic dimensions aren’t the only factors driving visits to these coffee giants – the drinks on offer also have an effect. Starbucks’ Pumpkin Spice Latte along with its Holiday menu drive visit spikes to the chain every year. These annual drink releases may contribute to Starbucks’ winter success – the company’s annual December visit bump tends to exceed that of Dunkin’. 

Dunkin’ also has fall and winter drink releases, but tends to see its visits growing more during the hot summer months, perhaps due to the relative affordability of its cold drinks. Analyzing the baseline change in monthly visits reveals that June 2023 saw Dunkin’ visits 11.2% higher than a January 2019 baseline, while Starbucks visits fell 1.5% in the same period.

Coffee Time Is Anytime

Coffee continues to be one of the most popular drinks in the world, and in the hot summer months, nothing beats a cold cup of joe. With these chains providing coffee lovers across the country with plenty of thirst-quenching options, the segment is poised to continue its positive foot traffic trajectory.

For more data-driven coffee updates, visit placer.ai/blog.

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