CHICAGO -- Cafe drinks and baked goods are quickly becoming convenience stores’ bread and butter. The fastest-growing beverages in c-stores are espresso drinks, with 60% growth over the past two years, according to Technomic’s Beverage Category Menu Insights. However, competing in the coffee and cafe space means going up against java giants such as Starbucks and the Seattle-based chain’s gold-standard mobile app. As more channels get into the coffee business, though, these coffee and bakery cafes are seeing less patronage today than they were in 2016, according to Technomic's 2018 Bakery & Coffee Cafe Consumer Trend Report.
Here are three insights from the report to help c-stores continue to grind away at the coffee competition.
1. The right stuff
It’s no wonder c-stores have been able to woo coffee consumers: The convenience-store model perfectly aligns with what consumers are looking for in their coffee purveyors. The top concept driver for bakery cafes is a convenient location (53%), followed by fast service (48%) and overall value (47%), according to the report.
In addition to overall convenience, hospitality is also a key decision factor in selecting a bakery cafe. About 44% of consumers say high-quality service is an important attribute in their decision process, the report said. To help consumers who value service break up with their current barista, operators can train employees to serve as coffee concierges for customers.
2. Bean to cup to door
A little more than half of 18- to 34-year-olds say they would order coffee for delivery from their favorite bakery cafe if offered, the report said. Despite the operational hurdles of delivering a hot beverage, large cafe chains are getting on board. To help generate buzz around its delivery program this summer, St. Louis-based Panera Bread offered a Bacon Mac & Cheese delivery-only limited-time offer.
3. Keeping it fresh
Drawing in younger consumers means offering a rotating mix of flavors they can't get anywhere else. The report said 52% of younger consumers would like bakery cafes to offer coffees featuring more unique flavors. Staying relevant can be a serious challenge when Starbucks is setting the bar for unique with items such as the Unicorn Frappuccino. But that doesn’t mean operators should dump their classic offerings. Baby boomers are increasingly likely to stick with familiar flavors, according to Technomic’s 2017 Flavor Consumer Trend Report. So striking the right balance between on-trend and standard offerings will be key to courting both younger and older consumers.
Photograph courtesy of Starbucks