ROSEMONT, Ill. — Consumers of hot dispensed beverages in convenience stores are a demanding bunch, said Robert Byrne, senior manager for Technomic, at CSP’s Hot Dispensed Beverage Forum in Rosemont, Ill. The extra legwork to keep them happy just might be worth it. “They are loyal,” Byrne said. “They are walking away from c-stores feeling better with a stronger intent to return and recommend.”
Investing in the satisfaction of the hot-dispensed consumer can pay off, with the category generating $6.7 billion in equivalent retail sales in 2017 and comprising 53% of total c-store beverage sales, according to Technomic’s 2018 C-Store Foodservice Outlook Multi-Client Study.
However, retailers might want to avoid serving these customers one-size-fits-all solutions. Consumers’ preferences vary by region and the local coffee powerhouses setting the bar.
Check out what hot-dispensed consumers are craving in each part of the country, based on Technomic Ignite consumer data ...
The Midwestern consumer
In the heartland, hot-dispensed consumers skew female, unlike the national average, according to Technomic Ignite consumer data. About 59% of Midwestern c-store coffee consumers are 45 years old and older. “We also see that this group often has a spouse in the household and are part of a nuclear family,” Byrne said.
Midwestern consumers need their hot drinks to go. “In the Midwest, not only am I in my car, but I am driving and moving,” he said. “This is where we’re seeing that time-pressed consumer.”
Service is also central to Midwesterners. About 75% of this subset of consumers say that a knowledgeable staff is important.
The Southern consumer
The South sees more Hispanic consumers of hot dispensed beverages than the rest of the country. Southern consumers also prioritize music and decor more than other groups.
A good deal is also key for Southern java drinkers, with 43% saying value affects their purchase. “In the South, at-home coffee is the biggest competitor,” Byrne said. “We also see a large number of consumers who tell us they consume coffee in the store in this region.”
The Northeastern consumer
The Northeastern coffee consumers is urban. About 65% of hot-dispensed consumers live in designated market areas. “This is a consumer who has a lot of choices,” Byrne said.
Like Southern consumers, Northeasterners are focused on value, with 44% saying it had an effect on purchase intent, compared to 35% nationally.
Frictionless options might also be a good fit for Northeastern consumers, with 87% saying timely payment handling is important or very important.
Kid-friendly offerings and services are also important to more than half of consumers in this neck of the world.
The Western consumer
As in the South, Western retailers' biggest coffee competitor is home coffee. Music and decor is also important, suggesting a more experiential visit driver.
About 63% of Western consumers are also looking for unique hot beverage items, compared to 56% nationally. Western consumers also skew younger, with 42% of Western consumers of hot dispensed beverages ages 25 to 44 years old.
Click here for the complete 2019 Dispensed Beverage Report.