Social Media Report: Photogenic Coffee

July 7, 2017

At the Foresight Factory, we’ve had our ear to the ground (or eyes glued to hashtags) when it comes to new methods of identifying growing trends. Here’s a taster of a new social media report we’ve got on FFonline about everyone’s favourite cure to the Monday blues: coffee.


Starbucks once counted and figured out they have over 87,000 options of coffee on offer. It’s clear that we have a lot of choices available to us when it comes to choosing a hot drink. From selecting the size, strength and flavour, we can also even dial up or down the fat, sugar and dairy content. However, we’re asking if on top of this, what we’re also seeking is a photogenic coffee.

coffee drinkers infographich Foresight Factory consumer statistics
Infographic depicting consumer coffee habits


Social media report photogenic coffee Laura Dennehy Foresight Factory

Our methodology

We’ve been using social analytics tools to scan consumer conversations about coffee to uncover patterns and rising themes. Now we understand how and why people share – and it is rarely in order to post truthful depictions of their lives. Instead they publicise the things that make them look good: their most enviable pastimes and aspirational behaviours. So this is why we’re interested in using social media to try to identify growing themes and predict consumer habits, because things posted today may well become established behaviour tomorrow. Although by its nature, social media listening (SML) can only look back over historic conversation, by analysing themes against our trends  –  which are all quantified changes in consumer behaviour or attitude  –  we can discard short term fads with no long term consumer trend underpinning it and identify those which we believe will grow. We also use our trend data to size the wider potential consumer who might be likely to adopt this nature.


Since 2015 we have measured a huge growth, +4500%, of photogenic coffee posts on Instagram. And this creates trends of its own: lattes, for example, are particularly popular because their white top creates the perfect canvas for #latteart, where baristas swirl designs onto the coffee’s surface.


Currently this is mostly coffee bought out of home, but we can fully expect that consumers seeking art on their coffee cups in store are soon going to turn their gaze to their cups at home and desire the same visual standards. The hashtag #coffeemug is already popular, showing that consumer coffee habits extends to beauty, including homeware too.


Posters of coffee images on Instagram are slightly more female (65% ) than male, although this is in line with overall coffee conversation online (images or otherwise). Those posting photogenic coffee are also most likely over 35, about 70% of posters fall into this age group.

Social media report photogenic coffee Laura Dennehy Foresight Factory



But at the Foresight Factory we’re keen to size trends beyond just social media to try to identify genuine growing themes versus short term spikes or fads. So we took a look at the wider consumer trends  –  changes which we have been tracking with data and innovation  –  and try to really understand the consumer.


The trend behind photogenic coffee

Driving demand for photogenic coffee is a wider trend we track called Performative Perfection. As lives are increasingly lived online, consumers welcome experiences that are more visual, beautiful and ultimately photogenic  –  all in a bid to improve their online image. Social media is a hungry beast and the more we post, the more pressure we feel to go out and find more activities to share. This means a pursuit for more remarkable and shareable coffees that we can post. From the age breakdown of coffee photos we can also see that this is no longer a pressure felt by teenagers but older ages too.


Social media report photogenic coffee Laura Dennehy Foresight Factory

Posting a pic of your coffee has become a socially acceptable fag break  –  some light relief from a busy day that can also be pleasingly Instagrammable. Nothing hints at a busy life more than a performative caffeine hit  –  and we know that 47% of global consumers tell us they are frequently under time pressure in their lives. Even better if the coffee looks freshly roasted and hand swirled, for what better way to whisper that you have sophisticated tastes. Wrapped up in that simple picture can be a whole lot of bragging that’s far subtler than yelling I AM BUSY AND IMPORTANT PS WOW LOOK AT MY REFINED COFFEE PALATE.


But how big is this likely to get? Well, in the UK, 8% of people post a picture of their food online every week, this rises to 11% in the US and a whopping 30% in China. In our visual society, a significant minority of people are looking to share images of their food, and only the most visually pleasing will make the cut when it comes to generating those likes.


So we see an opportunity for coffee brands to tap into this desire for shareable imagery and create beautiful packaging, unusual drink formats, new colours, tutorials for creating the perfect latte art, anything that appeals to the eye as well as the stomach.



What do you think of our new social media based research? Java-heads, aspiring baristas and all coffee drinkers (and photo-takers) are welcome to tweet us your thoughts!





Written by Laura Dennehy

I am the Head of Content Solutions at Foresight Factory and am responsible for innovating how we use trends to answer client questions and improving the ways we understand consumers.

You may also like to read...

26th July 2017

How To Ask The Right Questions in Research

We know that people aren’t always honest, that consumers can act differently to what they claim to do. In fact, […]

Read article
10th August 2017

Are Chatbots Pushing Away Asian Consumers?

When we think about AI developments, there’s a trend towards making machine learning as human as possible, from emotive search […]

Read article