Convenience stores remain a prime destination for hot beverages, and it appears younger consumers may hold the golden ticket for increasing coffee sales and profits.
First of all, millennials are frequent c-store visitors. In 2014, 11% of their food and beverage stops were at convenience stores, compared to 7.7% in 2006, according to NPD. But those in this age group are also huge fans of c-store coffee. Two-thirds say they are buying more regular and specialty coffee beverages from convenience stores this year, compared to 36% of all other c-store shoppers.
“Millennials are a prime audience to target for specialty beverages,” says Scott Reed, communications and data specialist for Bunn-O-Matic Corp. (BUNN). “Not only do 18% of the 90 million 25- to 34-year-olds drink coffee—higher than any other age group—but they account for 23% of specialty coffee consumption.”
So how can stores without a barista capture this growing audience? According to Karalynn McDermott, BUNN’s senior vice president of market development, they can offer specialty drinks with options for customization.
“You can offer real milk, various toppings such as chocolate sauces and caramel or French vanilla flavors, and seasonal flavors to keep it interesting,” McDermott said. She also encourages retailers to make specialty drinks available in hot and cold versions.
It’s also critical to make purchasing these beverages easy for convenience-seeking younger customers. “The important factor here if you provide a self-serve station is to have a touch-screen interface that engages the consumer,” she said. “It should be easy to make a drink without needing an attendant standing nearby.”
Espresso sales are on the rise, and today’s dispensers offer the variety and flexibility to keep the experience interesting for younger consumers. Using a modernized touch screen, consumers can select from a menu of espresso-based beverages—cappuccino or latte, cold or hot, skim or regular milk. The Build-A-Drink Touchscreen by BUNN, for example, features a 7-inch panel with an intuitive control console. Icons are chosen from a library of options, which can give a semicustom look for the retailer.
BUNN also offers BUNNlink, a cloud-based support system that helps retailers with routine, on-demand maintenance.
“It gives the operator a lower cost of ownership,” McDermott said. “We can monitor many different touchpoints within the piece of equipment. When they call in to the help desk, they can see what they are experiencing with their piece of equipment. We can troubleshoot and guide them through a problem so we are not dispatching service that’s not needed.” Store staff also benefit from picture-promoted cleaning instructions for daily maintenance.”
“It’s never been easier to tap into this growing consumer market,” McDermott added. “It is a win-win for everyone.”
This post is sponsored by Bunn-O-Matic