CHICAGO -- While convenience stores still lag behind traditional coffee houses and doughnut shops when coffee is the topic, they're not far behind, especially with their No. 1 weapon of choice, convenience.
That's what the opening speaker for CSP's Hot Dispensed Beverages Meeting presented in terms of results from its monthly surveys of 1,000 coffee consumers.
Mark DiDomenico, director of business development for research firm Datassential, Chicago, said c-stores (22%) rank behind doughnut stores (36%), coffee houses (35%) and quick-serve restaurants or QSRs (24%) on a combination of elements, including taste, temperature, freshness, availability to creamers and sweeteners and levels of service.
"While c-stores win with these customers on convenience and customization, they lose on quality," DiDomenico said.
Here's several other points DiDomenico made during his session:
- Demand for medium roasts is shrinking, dark roast is up slightly while the biggest increases have been in light or "blonde" roasts.
- About a third of coffee consumers were dissatisfied with coffee away from home, with some attributes being product served too hot, slow service or not having the preferred sweetener or creamer. "You're going to win the game in the weeds," he said, believing that store-level execution can make the difference.
- Provide a story. Explaining ingredients, where product came from, who grew it--these were all elements of a story that appeals to coffee customers.
- Some of the important "descriptors" to best sell coffee today include "fresh," "aroma," "rich," "whole-bodied" and "pure."
- But while "fresh" is an important descriptor, it's also overused. He said to make sure multiple cues exist to support the idea of fresh, be it an open kitchen where people see items being made or serving product within the proper freshness dates.
In emphasizing a c-store's advantage with convenience, DiDomenico said retailers need to consider the complexity of any new offer, even if it's a potential growth category such as espresso drinks.
"To snag millennials [for instance], they want convenience," he said. "[But] even espressos take time. Don't put up roadblocks. Waiting an extra minute could be a deal breaker."