It’s well known that comfort drinks have long been a mainstay of convenience stores, providing customers with a familiar, quick refreshment option. And while the convenience store beverage landscape has stayed relatively stable over the years, trends in customer preference and purchasing behaviors are changing, and food and beverage distributors are in a unique position to capitalize on these growing opportunities. To better understand the changing trends and potential opportunities, let’s examine the convenience store beverage market and current trends unfolding.
First, let’s quickly analyze the industry itself. The convenience store beverage industry in the United States is comprised of a mix of non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages, colas, juices, and sports drinks, among other options. These products are primarily sold in convenience stores, though there is an overlap with kiosks, drive-through establishments, and other types of establishments. Overall, this industry has a value that exceed $47 billion in 2020. While colas remain the leader in this market with a 38 percent share, other non-alcoholic options such as iced tea, juices, and sports drinks are expected to grow in the coming years.
But, this is only part of the story. While the overall convenience store beverage industry may remain healthy, there are some distinct shifts in customer demand and behavior. For example, the younger consumer, either college age or Millennials, are becoming increasingly influenced by new beverage options. From craft beer and hard seltzers to pre-mixed cocktails, the more educated consumer is driving the demand for a more unique product offering. This same consumer is also driving the emergence of healthier beverages, from plant-based drinks to low calorie options. This is further evidenced by the increase in bubble tea stands around college campuses, with boba beverages being increasingly advertised as a vegan and health-friendly drink.
The key takeaway for Food & Beverage Distributors is that there is an opportunity to capitalize on, and lead, the changing convenience store beverage industry. By understanding the market and customer demand, Distributors can begin to explore and provide the necessary products that satisfy customer demand and create a viable, profitable market for their business.
At a high level, the easiest way to get started with catering to the changing convenience store beverage industry is to conduct data-driven market research to better understand the dynamics of customer preference and purchasing behaviors. As part of this research, it’s important to focus on understanding the variety of products being offered, the dynamics of customer demand, and the competitive environment. To further support this effort, data-driven insights and analytics can be leveraged to gather a granular understanding of the customer base to target the right customers and capture a larger share of the market.
The second step is to leverage marketing insights to attract, convert, and close more leads and prospects. This can be done through various channels such as website optimization, email marketing, and direct sales acts. By leveraging the right tools, such as Brizo, Food & Beverage Distributors can add more value to their sales team and gain a competitive advantage in the market.
The third step, and arguably as important, is to find kitchens and expand operations. Here, leveraging data-enrichment solutions such as Brizo’s can be incredibly powerful. By having a more comprehensive view of the foodservice market, Distributors can not only optimize their production strategies, but also expand their business to new markets with confidence.
The convenience store beverage industry is going through a period of dynamic change. This new landscape presents a major opportunity for Food & Beverage Distributors, yet it is important to understand the market and customer attitudes first before capturing a larger customer base. Fortunately, by leveraging data-driven solutions such as Brizo’s, Distributes can optimize their research capabilities and find the products that customers’ desire.