The coffee creamer section is one of my favorites at my local grocery store. It’s colorful and big and always changing! I love to look at what plant-based options are hitting the shelves during my weekly trip to the store. Even though I don’t consume plant-based dairy products on a regular basis, I’m still keeping my eye on them. Coffee creamer was an early adopter of plant-based dairy. This is most likely because a morning cup of joe is such a staple. If coffee creamer brands didn’t innovate and include plant-based options in their lineup, they’d be missing out on all the consumers who are looking to limit, if not avoid, dairy products altogether.
What we learned from consumers
Consumers who are interested in plant-based dairy can be a bit elusive. So what did we do? We found consumers who were willing to spill the (coffee) beans. We learned a wide range of insights! They talked to us about their thoughts and usage of plant-based coffee creamers. They told us why they consume plant-based creamers, expectations around taste, important product attributes, and what plant-based protein sources they’re most interested in.
We also learned that taste and the perception of being better for you than traditional coffee are the leading reasons consumers go for plant-based creamers. Something else that caught my attention was that:
This is where many consumers have a hard time with the “first bite hurdle”, or in this case, “first sip hurdle”. After the first sip, many consumers have such a strong, adverse reaction, and they aren’t willing to take a second taste.
How to choose the right plant-based coffee creamer flavor
So, what can coffee creamer brands do to entice more consumers to try (and try again) their products, if there’s such a disparity in expectation and reality? There are tools to mask the plant protein used (which is often quite bitter). There are also ways to mimic more dairy-like mouthfeel – but there’s a more logical solution. Pair the flavor of the product to compliment the plant protein used in the base! For example, if you’re creating a coconut milk coffee creamer, consider using chocolates, tropical fruits, or vanillas. Utilizing the natural flavor of the plant-base and pairing it with a complimentary flavor goes a long way with palatability.
There’s so much to learn and explore with this fast-paced category, that I simply can’t cover it all in one sitting! Check out What’s the Deal with Non-Dairy Dairy to get grounded in the plant-based space. If you want to learn more about what we heard from consumers about plant-based coffee creamers, or hear from our application scientists about which flavor is right for your plant-base, reach out to your Givaudan Account Manager.