Snacking is the most common reason convenience-store consumers stop in, accounting for 37% of total occasions, according to Technomic’s 2020 Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend Report. And with 74% of consumers saying they snack at least once a day, that means there’s a big opportunity for c-store retailers to step up their snack game and profit. Can coffee offerings help boost snack sales, both at peak hours and during slower periods, such as mid-morning, afternoon and late-night?
“Absolutely!” says Chairil McClain, Senior Director, Beverage Innovation for BUNN. “The key is pairing and offering snacks that will complement the coffee program, whether it be hot or cold coffee. It also depends on the equipment being used to brew and dispense the coffee.” Batch brewers like BUNN Infusion Series produce hot coffee as well as iced from the same machine, she notes.
Beverages make a difference
Great coffee can be a critical draw for customer traffic. In fact, Technomic’s report notes that while snacking is a big reason for c-store visits, 48% of consumers say beverage selections are more important than food offerings when it comes to deciding which c-store to visit for breakfast—which would likely hold for snack occasions as well. That’s why upgrading the coffee program alongside the snacks selection is crucial.
“Offering a premium coffee program goes hand-in-hand with higher-quality snacks,” McClain says. Premium coffee drinkers are not going to be happy with ordinary snacks like a bag of chips. “They are willing to pay a premium price for premium coffee,” she notes, “And will also ante up for better-quality snack choices.”
Premium coffee programs usually tout top-quality beans with buzzwords such as sustainable, single-origin, shade-grown, organic and fair trade. Follow similar marketing tactics for high-quality snacks—with POS materials emphasizing positive attributes such as organic, high-protein, non-GMO and gluten-free, for example. And just as consumers are demanding soy, almond, oat and other plant-based milk alternatives, they are looking for healthier, plant-based snacks. Some 29% of consumers (including 37% of 18 to 34-year-olds) say would buy plant-based snacks if available. Meet that need, and promote it heavily.
Sweet coffee indulgences
Many customers regard specialty coffees as between-meal extravagances; 55% of consumers purchase coffee as a treat, according to Technomic. “Gen Z are the leading consumers of cold/iced or blended coffee, and millennials are the leading consumers of hot specialty coffee drinks like cappuccinos, lattes, and espressos,” McClain says. C-store retailers can market these drinks as indulgent snacks any time of the day. For flavors, toffee, dark chocolate, pumpkin, caramel and cinnamon are the fastest-growing flavors paired with coffee, according to Ignite menu data.
Cold Brew coffee is hugely popular, and more consumers are treating themselves to a cup. According to Ignite menu data, 17.6% of c-store retailers now offer cold brew.
“BUNN offers a portfolio of hot and cold coffee beverage solutions for any size operator,” McClain says. “We have the NITRON Cold Draft that dispenses cold brew and Nitro coffee, on-tap and on-demand without the hassle of kegs.” Nitro cold brew is infused with nitrogen during dispensing, which adds a creamy, thicker texture and a slightly sweeter flavor profile.
Keep it fresh
Tired-looking snacks will never sell; so keep the turnover frequent. The same is true of coffee. Stale java that’s been sitting too long will turn off customers with just one sip. Savvy c-store retailers use batch brewers for peak consumption periods, then turn to other methods for slower periods—mid-morning, afternoons and evenings— which are all major snack times.
“BUNN has the new Fast Cup™ which complements their coffee program by delivering the same flavor profile with a bean-to-cup brewing platform. Paired with the Infusion Series batch brewer, this combination of BUNN brewers is equipped to handle the demands of any daypart,” McClain says. “Each has specialized features that enable operators to deliver their coffee recipe regardless of batch size, brewing method, or location without compromising flavor or quality.”
With on-demand brewers, customers can treat themselves to a specialty coffee any time of the day or night.
This post is sponsored by BUNN