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Caffeinated Kids [Social Technologies]

Social ) Technologies
1776 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Suite 815
Washington, DC 20036
Main office: +1 202 223 2801 www.socialtechnologies.com
Email: Hope Katz Gibbs

CAFFEINATED KIDS: What will the future look like for this “buzzed” generation?

Washington, DC, August 15, 2007 — The caffeine consumption of America’s teenagers has risen steadily in recent years, spurred by a variety of social, cultural, and market drivers. Both their rising caffeine consumption and their choice of the coffee shop as a favorite hangout will likely shape the lives of today’s teens as they mature as social beings and as consumers.

That is the forecast of “Caffeinated Kids: A Buzzed Generation,” a recent report by the futurist consulting firm Social Technologies.

“A 2007 study found a 12% increase in both coffee and iced-tea servings at commercial food service outlets since 2001—with double-digit increases among consumers under age 18,” explains Social Technologies analyst Kevin Osborn, author of the report. “This growth in caffeine consumption—and the rise of coffee drinking as an adolescent social activity—may lead to a number of different outcomes. Some are relatively benign, of course, but others may be cause for concern.”


Osborn suggests that many of the teens who grow up drinking coffee will likely be coffee drinkers for life. “Indeed, the number of young adults who continue to drink coffee daily is already on the rise,” he shares, noting that according to the National Coffee Association, the number of 18- to 24-year olds who say they drink coffee nearly doubled between 2003 (16%) and 2006 (31%).

Many teens will also likely remain loyal to Starbucks or other brands of coffee they now drink well into adulthood.

However, Osborn points out that caffeine can lead to a variety of health problems.

“The stimulating effects of caffeine—which include a boost in both heart rate and blood pressure—can be more drastic for young bodies due to their smaller size,” Osborn says, referencing a 2006 research study in Chicago that reported an increase in caffeine-abuse cases over the previous three years. According to the study, 12% of the cases required hospital treatment. The average age of the patients was 21.

“The introduction of elevated amounts of caffeine at young ages, and continued into adulthood, may result in future cardiovascular problems for the Millennial generation,” he notes. “Since too much caffeine can interfere with calcium absorption, doctors and nutritionists also worry about the bone health of our youths. And since teens have developed the habit of guzzling sweetened, calorie-laden coffee drinks, there is concern that this will only add to the growing problem of obesity among both children and adults.”


Although a backlash against caffeinating kids is already underway, bans on coffee and energy-drink sales to teens seems unlikely in the US, Osborn forecasts.

However, “to counter any potential backlash, regulators might begin monitoring caffeine content, and beverage manufacturers and confectioners could consider voluntarily disclosing their caffeine content on product labels as a way to forestall regulation,” Osborn suggests.

“Some industries may benefit from the trend. The pharmaceutical industry, for one, may see growth in the market for blood pressure medication as coffee-quaffing teens move into adulthood.”

The social patterns established by today’s teens will also likely persist into their adulthood.

“The teens and tweens currently hanging out at Starbucks and other coffee bars,” Osborn suggests, “will continue to look for comfortable, hassle-free, time-fluid hangouts well into their adulthood.”

To set up an interview with Kevin Osborn to discuss additional business implications, outcomes, and drivers, send an email to Hope Gibbs (hope.gibbs@socialtechnologies.com).

An award-winning author and editor, Kevin Osborn is one of Social Technologies’ senior writer/analysts. He has contributed briefs on a wide range of business and lifestyle topics to the firm’s multiclient projects, as well as performing custom writing and analysis work for corporate clients. Before joining S)T in 2005, Osborn authored, co-authored, or ghostwrote more than 40 books as an independent author for top US publishers, including: The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Bringing Up Baby (Macmillan, 1997; 2006), The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Classical Mythology (Macmillan, 1998; 2004), and The Encyclopedia of American Sports Heroes (Scholastic, 1996).

Social Technologies is a global research and consulting firm specializing in the integration of foresight, strategy, and innovation. With offices in Washington, DC, London, and Shanghai, Social Technologies serves the world’s leading companies, government agencies, and nonprofits. A holistic, long-term perspective combined with actionable business solutions helps clients mitigate risk, make the most of opportunities, and enrich decision-making. For more information visit www.socialtechnologies.com, the blog http://changewaves.socialtechnologies.com, and our newsletter, www.socialtechnologies.com/changewaves.

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Contact HOPE KATZ GIBBS by phone [703-346-6975] or email.