While gasoline purchases are the number one reason why shoppers go to convenience stores, food and beverages follow close behind at number two. Consumers of all ages are drawn to the ease of grabbing a quick drink whether it’s on their way to work or before they get back on the road for a road trip. Beverage sales are something you should prioritize all year round to maximize your customer satisfaction and your profits. If you want to make sure your c-store is ready for success, understanding the beverage category is an important step.
In today’s c-store industry, the variety of beverages is expansive. When considering your beverage offerings there are some key categories that you need to pay attention to:
Packaged Non-alcoholic Beverages: sodas, soft drinks, juice, water, etc.
Alcoholic Beverages: beer and wine
Fountain Soft Drinks
Frozen Dispensed Drinks: slushies, smoothies, etc.
Hot Drinks: coffee and tea
While these categories cover all the stocking options for beverages, there are other sub-categories that are important to think about as well like energy drinks and “better-for-you” beverages. When evaluating your c-store’s beverage sales and stock, make sure you are considering both industry statistics and the demands of your unique customer base.
Although beverage sales have remained an important profit driver in the c-store industry, there are several factors that tend to affect the category performance. In recent years, c-stores have seen their beverage sales decline due to poor weather and high fuel prices. At the end of 2016 and beginning of 2017, convenience store beverage sales were particularly weak, with growth in the category holding soft at about 4 percent at the end of Q1 2017.
Although the last two quarters have not been too promising, the Convenience Store News Forecast study for 2017 reported that 70 percent of retailers remain optimistic about their packaged beverage sales, expecting them to increase by about 3.3 percent. This positive outlook is not unfounded, either. The Forecast Study also projected that dollar sales for packaged beverages will increase 4.5 percent on a per-store basis.
Guarantee Your Sales Increase
We’re fast approaching Memorial Day and the Summer months, the most important times of year for c-store beverage sales, which makes now a great time to start looking at your store’s offerings closely.
To make the most of your beverage sales this year, keep these things in mind:
Consumers want variety: 53% of consumers expressed that they want c-stores to offer a wider variety of beverages. In addition, it’s important for c-stores to provide a wide variety of beverage options that will meet the needs of all their different customers.
Consumers are thinking about their health: 62% of consumers are looking for healthier drinks over healthier food and bottled water is among the top growing categories.
Innovation is key: While making room for more options may be difficult, finding the balance between tried and true and the latest and greatest is important. Investing in new flavors and formats is a great way to keep winning over Millennial consumers.
Energy drinks are a big hit: In April 2016, CSP reported that energy drinks were “on their way to surpassing carbonated soft drinks in sales within the next three years.” Make sure you’re stocking the right brands in this category, as it makes up 28% of beverage preferences for c-store consumers.
Many consumers want craft beer: Even though craft beer sales are just barely growing year after year, there is still a huge buzz about this trend.
Looking for ways to really boost your beverage sales this summer?
Offer promotional pricing on select beverages.
Advertise specials for the purchase of a beverage with another complimentary item.
Use signage and digital marketing to tell customers about your new or most popular beverages.