Anyone operating even a small coffee program likely knows that old-fashioned black coffee is no longer enough to satisfy most customers. When it comes to their morning (or mid-morning, or afternoon pick-me-up) cup of coffee, consumers are increasingly discerning. They want their favorite creamers, as well as new, exciting flavors and, most importantly, they want to be able to personalize their cup, creating a coffee drinking experience that suits their individual taste.
Over the past several years, as more consumers have developed specific preferences for their coffee drinks, many have sought out premium specialty coffee shops to satisfy their cravings for customization. But for some—people in a rush to get to work, those who may be on a tighter budget, or those who simply remain brewed coffee loyalists—expensive coffee shops aren’t the best option. For these consumers, convenience stores that offer customizable coffee at a lower price point are the better solution.
“Knowing that they can get a quality cup of coffee at a c-store where they can customize it with a variety of creamer flavors from their favorite brand can really make a difference to consumers,” Patricia Poole, Nestlé Professional Beverages Coffee-mate® Brand Manager, explained. “We see this as an opportunity to help our c-stores be a stop along the way by making their coffee bar as appealing as possible to guests.”
Flavors, creamers and formats
According to Technomic’s 2020 Beverage Consumer Trend Report, regular hot coffee is the top beverage ordered at cafes and convenience stores, and one of the fastest-growing beverages on restaurant menus is cold brew coffee. For c-stores, this means that not only is coffee still a big deal,but offering customizable options and different formats can be a key to attracting more customers.
Fortunately, keeping pace with different tastes doesn’t mean that foodservice operators have to hire staff with highly specialized skills or purchase expensive equipment. In fact, according to Datassential, 76% of iced coffee drinkers say that iced coffee with a Coffee mate® flavored creamer added is a good substitute for an iced latte. That’s good news for c-stores, where a full-service, barista-style coffee bar may not be feasible, but offering customizable coffee options absolutely is—and it’s something operators should consider a must-have.
To appeal to customers all year round, c-stores should include both hot and cold coffee options, such as iced or cold brew coffee. Technomic’s Beverage report noting that 31% of consumers are more likely to order caffeine-free beverages, so operators should also stock decaf options. And according to Datassential, more than three-quarters of brewed coffee drinkers add at least one condiment to their coffee, with creamer being their primary choice, so operators should provide a variety of different creamers. A good selection can include a dairy-based creamer like Nestlé Carnation® Half & Half and non-dairy options in an array of flavors. While classic flavors like French Vanilla and Hazelnut are crowd-pleasers, offering creamers in popular candy brand flavors, such as Coffee mate® Snickers®, as well as seasonal creamer flavors, such as pumpkin spice, peppermint mocha and gingerbread cookie, are exciting and easy ways to keep coffee drinkers on-premise and help give beverage sales a lift.
A better-for-you boost
Another way c-stores can compete with coffee shops is by making sure to offer better-for-you creamers. Technomic’s Beverage report found that 29% of consumers are more likely to order beverages that are sugar-free. When choosing the types of creamer to offer your customers, consider options such as Coffee mate® Sugar Free Hazelnut and Sugar Free French Vanilla Flavor Liquid Creamer Singles. Featuring America’s No. 1 brand of creamer shows customers that they’re patronizing an establishment that values quality and care. What’s more, creamer customization can even help boost food safety.
Keeping consumers safe
Amid COVID-19, foodservice operators are working hard to update procedures to ensure both staff and customer safety. Technomic’s Beverage report notes that 44% of consumers are less likely to use shared bottles of creamer or milk for their coffee now than they were before the pandemic. For these customers, it can be helpful to offer single-serving “tubs,” tamper-proof, non-removable Liquid Pump Bottles or bulk-machine creamers, which are all available from Nestlé Coffee mate®.
“With COVID-19, we made the change based on a desire to reduce touchpoints in our stores as a food safety measure,” said Jim Workman, GetGo® Category Manager. “We didn’t want open containers on our coffee bar, so we converted our existing creamer wells to hold the full line of Coffee mate® ambient pumps. We’re using all the flavors of pumps, including the seasonal Pumpkin Spice flavor. We know our customers want variety on the coffee bar and there’s a lot of flavor variety in the Coffee mate® product line that the competition just can’t offer.”
For c-stores, being able to offer coffee drinks that are customizable can be a boon to business. C-stores can keep staff on campus this way, as well as attract business from visitors and guests who may not want to leave the building for a cup of coffee. With an array of different flavor and format options, Coffee mate® creamers make customizing coffee drinks easy for everyone—while increasing safety at the communal coffee bar.
This post is sponsored by Nestlé® Coffee mate®