Asia’s largest coffee exhibition, Cafe Show Seoul, which occurred from November 4 to November 7, 2020 at COEX in Seoul, selected and announced the market key word for 2021 as “S.M.I.L.E,” which means to encourage that difficulties and struggles faced by the pandemic in 2020 will be overcome in the post-COVID-19 era.
The 2021 keyword “S.M.I.L.E” stands for:
— Subscription (increased trend of coffee subscription)
— Modification (modification in the coffee industry to match the needs of MZ generation)
— Identity (growing strength of coffee in the world coffee market)
— Luxury (consumer’s growing need for luxurious goods)
— Environment (increased consideration for environment and sustainability).
In summary, the word ‘S.M.I.L.E’ provides hopeful imagery of where the industry is headed in the new normal era.
The word “smile” indicates laughter and pleasure. Along with Cafe Show Seoul 2020’s main theme of the show, “Say Coffee :). Together, We Always Coffee,” the 2021 market keyword “S.M.I.L.E” strives to revitalize the currently stagnant global coffee market and suggests a positive future for the industry. Furthermore, it highlights how the industry professionals should prepare for the new normal era following COVID-19, by selecting key terms, such as coffee subscription and environmentally-friendly coffee.
– S(Subscription): Increase in ‘untact’ business platforms, including coffee subscription
In the past, regular subscription services, represented by newspapers, magazines, and milk, were the norm. Recently, as ‘untact’ services with strict social distancing have been diversified, not only various food industries but also domestic franchise cafes and convenience store industries have introduced subscription products. Marketing activities are unfolding. It is understood that many consumers are paying attention to the advantage of being “convenience” in being able to regularly receive coffee beans that suit their tastes at home.
It is expected that soon the coffee subscription service will be further strengthened and advanced by tailoring the coffee subscription service to each individual’s preference in coffee-producing area, taste, and other various factors.
– M(Modification): Changes in the coffee market fo the MZ generation
Recently, the coffee culture has been changing variously, centering around the MZ generation. Due to the spread of the pandemic, making ‘Dalgona coffee,’ creating ‘home cafes’ and other diversification that can be enjoyed at home have been popular, especially across social media channels. In addition, the usage of internet shopping and live commerce has increased drastically. These factors indicate the consumer buying behavior is changing. The MZ generation particularly will become more interested in real-time communication via digital devices and have the tendency to seek accelerated means for purchase. The market would change fairly rapidly to meet these needs of the MZ generation.
– I(Identity): Strong presence of newly developed coffee
Regarding the crises of the coffee industry due to the COVID-19, the World Coffee Leaders Forum at Cafe Show Seoul discussed the impact of the pandemic on coffee consumption and expected expansion of the “slow coffee” market using neuroscience. Slow coffee is attracting many coffee lovers by having baristas directly grind high-quality fresh beans adjusted to suit consumers’ preferences through advanced customization. Big brands like SPC and Starbucks Korea are also looking to introduce slow coffee to their customers and already run impressive customized services.
– L(Luxury): Higher demand for luxury goods
Recently in the coffee market, there is a higher demand for customized and luxurious goods that exactly meet each customer’s taste. There is a growing demand for healthier ingredients and better sources. Customers are emphasizing ‘performance’ and ‘quality’ rather than ‘cost-effectiveness.’
– E(Environment): Spread of “green”, sustainable culture
As awareness, interest and concern about the environment have recently grown, companies in the food industry are introducing various eco-friendly ingredients to their products. Recently, Starbucks introduced an eco-friendly cross bag using plastic bottles, and Cafe Show Seoul 2020, there was a special eco-friendly showcase called “Thank You, Coffee,” during which biodegradable paper cups and straws were displayed. Practice of eco-friendly campaigns is expected to continue in 2021, as environment is a growing interest all across various industries.
The 20th International Cafe Show is planned to take place from November 10 to November 13, 2021 in Seoul.