BY SPLENDA SWEETENERS FOR FOOD SERVICE
Imagine that you’re a customer and you’re driving along the highway. You want a coffee, so you pull off the highway and park at the first convenience store you see. You walk inside the store and pour yourself a cup of coffee. Maybe you pick up a sandwich or a snack too. You pay, get back in your car, drive away.
How often does this happen at your store? Twenty times a day? Fifty times? A hundred times or more? As you know, coffee and the coffee bar are essential to the success of any c-store. According to a 2014 industry report, coffee leads hot beverage sales at c-stores, generating more than 77 percent of hot dispensed beverage sales.1 And coffee drinkers buy more than just coffee: A 2013 survey found that, compared to most other customers, coffee drinkers spend more on food service in convenience stores.2
However, the coffee bar is not what it used to be. Although more than half (57 percent) of all Americans surveyed reported drinking coffee in the past day, the tastes and preferences of the nation’s coffee drinkers are changing.3 From 2015 to 2016, consumption of espresso-based beverages—prevalent among 18-24 year olds and 25-39 year olds—increased from 16 percent to 18 percent, while daily consumption of traditional coffee declined from 48 percent in 2015 to 43 percent in 2016.3
These developments present c-store operators with an opportunity to innovate and optimize. Offering new types of coffee, such as espresso or other gourmet beverages, can help operators appeal to changing tastes. Many are already doing so—about 16 percent of retail food service operators (including c-stores) plan to expand or make changes to their coffee products in 2016.4 However, adding new drinks often requires new equipment and training, and these costs can quickly add up. Instead, reevaluate your sweetener mix: you can quickly optimize your coffee bar without a large investment.
These little packets may appear to be only a small part of your coffee bar, but your customers care about these products. Brands, or lack thereof, are particularly important. If you’ve made the decision to offer non-branded sweeteners, you may be negatively influencing your customers’ experience at and perception of your business. Many operators intuitively understand this: 74 percent of operators agree that having a branded sweetener positively impacts consumer perception.5
Adding SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener to your product assortment is simple, and the switch can deliver value. When you offer a branded sweetener, you tap into that brand’s base of loyal users. In the case of SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, a study found that 65 percent of base consumers rank it among their top three sweeteners—private label sucralose is similarly ranked by only 6 percent of consumers.5
The most powerful reason to reconsider your sweetener mix is also the simplest—it’s what consumers expect. Even as tastes and consumption patterns change, every consumer takes their coffee their own way. Some whiten, some use sugar, and some opt for a low-calorie sweetener, but all of them want the products their preferred products to be available.
Again, imagine you’re a consumer. You stop at a c-store for a cup of coffee. You select your roast and pour your coffee, but when you go to sweeten it, your preferred sweetener isn’t there. Without that sweetener, you can’t make your coffee the way you do at home—that single misstep on the part of the operator has made your coffee experience less than ideal. You leave, but you may not stop in for another cup of coffee (or anything else, for that matter) ever again. Is this how you want your patrons to leave your store?
- NACS. (2014). Coffee Sales. Retrieved from http://www.nacsonline.com/research/factsheets/instoremerchandise/pages/coffee.aspx.
- Technomic’s Omnibus Foodservice Beverage Study, 2013
- National Coffee Association USA. (2016). National Coffee Drinking Trends 2016.
- Killian, K., Westra, A. (2016). 2016 Foodservice Handbook. Retrieved from http://digitaledition.qwinc.com/publication/?i=305093.
- Technomic Inc. Sweetener Category Assessment, 2015 Based on out of home use