Costa Coffee has just announced the national roll-out of the Chatty Café scheme; an initiative designed to encourage conversations between customers at designated ‘Chatter and Natter’ tables in-store, across over 300 branches nationwide.
Following a successful trial earlier this year, the national launch comes as new research reveals we’re having less conversation as a nation, with six in ten (59%) having fewer face-to-face chats compared to ten years ago.
Originally founded in Manchester, by Alexandra Hoskyn, the scheme was created to connect people from all walks of life who want to meet new faces and enjoy new conversations.
Costa Coffee has now become the first and only coffee chain in the UK to adopt the scheme on a national scale.
And it seems we are indeed a nation in need of a natter, as the poll of over 2,500 UK adults conducted by Costa Coffee reveals that nearly half (49%) admit they chat to others on average fewer than six times a day, with four per cent even saying they don’t have any face-to-face conversations a day at all.
The decline of face-to-face conversation is blamed primarily on the rise of digital communication (42%); with the same percentage of respondents claiming it’s much more convenient to talk ‘online’. Nearly two-fifths (37%) believe it’s down to people being too busy to chat.
Despite conversation dwindling across the country, three quarters (75%) say they would like to have more human interaction when it comes to chatting – and rightly so, as a quarter (25%) of those surveyed say talking makes them feel happy, and over one in five (21%) feel more confident after a face-to-face natter.
Although the advantages of discussion are clear, it appears our anxieties are holding us back from interacting with each other more. Nearly two thirds (63%) say they would be hesitant to chat to someone they don’t know, with the fear of rejection as respondents think other might not want to talk to them (34%) and nerves (28%) being the main reasons that we ‘keep ourselves to ourselves’.
However, when we do find the confidence to start up chatter with new acquaintances; discussing the ‘weather’ (48%) appears to be the most popular conversation-starter – perhaps unsurprising as we continue to experience one of the hottest summers on record in Britain.
Victoria Moorhouse, head of sustainability at Costa Coffee, commented, “It is clear from our research that although we appear to be talking less as a nation, there’s a real desire for people to actually have more face-to-face conversations around the country.
“Our coffee shops have always played an important role within communities; acting as a hub for people to meet, spend time together and most importantly, talk. With loneliness and social isolation on the rise, feeling part of a community is more important than ever.
“And that’s exactly what the Chatty Café scheme is all about – we understand the importance of conversation and we want to help make it as simple as possible for our customers to open up, have a friendly chat and bring local people together within our stores.
To join the conversation, look out for dedicated 'Chatter & Natter' tables at your local Costa Coffee branch from Tuesday 7th August. For further information visit https://thechattycafescheme.co.uk
Regional Differences in Conversation Habits:
Brighton is the UK’s chattiest city (with on average 14 face-to-face conversations per day compared to the national average of 10)
Birmingham is the shyest city (73% are hesitant to talk someone they don’t know)
Birmingham is the UK’s ‘WhatsApp’ capital (51% of residents preferring the digital messaging tool to have most of their digital conversations
Sheffield has the least confident conversationalists (20% don’t start conversations with strangers because they think they are not interesting enough)
Nottingham is the most emotional city, with 26% feeling comfortable enough to discuss their feelings
The Top 10 Conversation-Starters in the UK:
1. The weather (48%)
2. Immediate surroundings (34%)
3. Local area (28%)
4. Asking how someone is doing (27%)
5. The news (24%)
6. Sport (20%)
7. Asking what people do for a living (19%)
8. Music (17%)
9. Asking where people live (16%)
10. Asking what people got up to at the weekend (15%)