Category Management Handbook

Packaged Beverages Update: Away From the Mainstream

Packaged beverages are leading convenience-store unit-sales growth in 2016. Why? Consider the alternatives.

First, take alcohol beverages. While craft and imports are big movers in the beer category, spirits are writing their own success story in 2016, ringing up $528.7 million in c-store sales for the 24 weeks ending June 12, a 9.8% increase from the year prior. Case sales rose 12%, according to IRI. Growth is coming from premium, superpremium and ultrapremium spirits, says Viamari of IRI.

In nonalcohol beverages, bottled water and energy drinks have been the two fastest- growing segments in 2016.

Damian Wyatt, beverage category manager for Mapco, Brentwood, Tenn., says noncarbonated is driving the retailer’s nonalcohol sales growth, directly at the expense of carbonated soft drinks (CSDs).

In energy, innovative new products such as The Summer Edition from Red Bull, a kiwi-fl avored variety, have performed well this summer, as well as new items from Monster and Rockstar. Ready-to-drink coffees from Starbucks are also big sellers.

For CSDs, the biggest drop in sales is with “future consumption” pack sizes—12-packs in particular. Mapco is experimenting with packs of alternative sizes—for example, sixpacks of 16-ounce CSDs—with some success.

Wyatt sees a similar shift from standard to sexy in beer, where premium domestic sales continue to erode, as craft beer, imports and other alcohol beverages grow. “Anything we try diff erent in regards to moving away from the mainstream, our customers seem to really gravitate to,” he says.

But will they become loyal to those new items? That’s to be determined.

Beverage Sales

C-store sales, 24 weeks ending June 12, 2016

Source: IRI | * Percent change from a year ago

About IRI New Product Pacesetters

To be designated a New Product Pacesetter, a brand must:

  • Complete a full year of sales in calendar year 2015.
  • Begin tracking year-one sales after 30% ACV (all commodity volume) weighted distribution.
  • Be among the top 100 new banners based on year-one sales.

“Anything we try different in regards to moving away from the mainstream, our customers seem to really gravitate to.” —Damian Wyatt

View the full 2016 Category Management Handbook

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