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Europe: ‘Coffee Selfies’ could be a niche in the hot drinks market, report

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The increasing number of hot drinks on supermarket shelves means new products have to demonstrate innovation in order to stand out from established brands.

According to a recent report by Canadean, hot beverages offering consumers novel and fun experiences, such as customizing their drinks through foam art, could spell a new era for the products.

The report states that consumers shared their desire for personalized hot drinks influenced 11.6% of their consumption in 2015.

Analyst Veronika Zhupanova says it is little surprise that the sheer variety of hot beverages on retail aisles leaves many consumers feeling overwhelmed by choice.

“This presents a huge challenge to drinks manufacturers, as they seek to offer something truly unique. Providing consumers with an opportunity to personalize drinks, especially at home, offers a sense of novelty and can create an emotional connection with consumers,” she says.

Zhupanova adds that while flavor customization is a particularly popular trend right now, there are various new methods being developed to make hot drinks feel personalized.

Some manufacturers are investing heavily in foam art like the Ripple Maker coffee machine that prints images on coffee foam using three dimensional techniques, which can replicate images uploaded by the user and print personalized messages.

“The product offers genuinely new experiences of personalization, with the technology capable of producing a coffee containing your own ‘selfie’, for example,” says Zhupanova.

“However, at such a large price point of US$999, it is currently far too expensive to appeal to the mass market.”

While waiting for this kind of technology to become cheaper, manufacturers can take inspiration from more affordable solutions, such as the dissolvable latte art strips from Japanese company, Takara Tomy Arts Co.

The item allows consumers to create a number of shapes in their beverage, including cartoon characters.

“It is highly likely that concepts like foam art and dissolvable strips will remain niche, representing a novelty rather than a sustained trend,” says Zhupanova.

“The personalization concept that underpins them, however, will have a long-term impact on the hot drinks market.”