Home Research Italians retu...

Italians return to their bars

Consumer confidence is gradually returning to its pre-crisis levels

Confidence is at last growing in this first half of 2015, and with it also the desire to go out and socialise, which includes enjoying that typical Italian breakfast treat – cappuccino or coffee and a croissant – one that was ingrained into the Italian lifestyle but which of late had become a luxury for many. Now, research into consumer desires are confirming a return to pre-recessionary ways.

The Nielsen confidence index, for example, gained as much as 11 points in the first quarter of this year, rising to 57. We may still lag somewhere behind the optimism now being seen in Germany (100) and the UK (97), but we are catching up with our more direct competitor-partners, namely Spain (61) and France (59). And while 93 Italians out of 100 continue to believe that the country is still in recession (as against 95 a year ago), a higher percentage now believes we will be back to recovery 12 months from now (16% today compared with 12% last year).

There is also an increasing propensity among consumers to buy beverages outside the home, which for the period from 15 May to 31 July Formind/Mindforhoreca predicts will leap forward from 0.98 in May to 1.52 in June, settling down to 1.51 in July. A similar sharp rise in the index that measures the inclination to purchase among operators as compared with the industrial system, which rose from 2.06 in May to 3.29 in June, levelling off at 3.15 in July.

But the statistic that most clearly suggests a return to breakfast at the bar is the Nielsen finding (from March 2015), which points to a slight fall-off in sales of coffee and biscuits through the large-scale retail trade.

The recession certainly has not passed without having a profound effect on the attitudes and wishes of consumers, who are coming out at the other end of the crisis more attentive and demanding than ever. In order to intercept them as they go about their daily business, efforts will need to be made to find out exactly why people want to stand and drink coffee at the bar (or have it served to them sitting down at a table) rather than save money by drinking coffee made using a home espresso maker.

The right mix that today’s new consumers demand involves high-quality ingredients, excellent preparation techniques, and also welcoming, trendy establishments that also offer a range of additional services. The combination of all these factors will be focused heavily on at Host2015 and, in particular, at The International Coffee Fair (S.I.C.). It is no coincidence that this year’s edition of S.I.C. has more exhibition space and is looking more cosmopolitan than ever.