Part 2: The New Face Of Convenience Store Coffee
In our post last week, we talked about a radical shift in the convenience store coffee market; with prices at a painful plateau, people are straying from luxury brands like Starbucks and gravitating more towards value-priced coffee chains. And while larger retailers are suffering from wide, open margins and customer losses, smaller retailers are reveling in this newly available market space.
McDonalds, Dunkin’ Donuts and other renowned value-coffee vendors are scavenging for customers, pumping up promotions and producing new lines faster than you can say “more market, please.” They are in it to win it. But while the big dogs of low-priced coffee are on the hunt, other competitors in the same game are realizing something: they have the same opportunity to bump up their bottom lines through innovation, quality coffee and stronger promotion. Convenience stores, in particular, have a perfect angle for gaining some traction in this market. Here’s why:
1. They already have a solid, coffee customer base. Every morning, their coffee stations fill to the brim with regulars, as well as random passers-by.
2. What they offer is equally as valuable as what McDonalds and Dunkin’ offer (a price-effective alternative to luxury coffee) and equally as appealing to the newly reformed luxury-coffee customer.
It is imperative that c-stores don’t let the bigger parts of their market intimidate them. Coffee makes up about 24% of c-store sales; they would be crazy not to go after this market.
So how do they do it? Well, there are right ways and wrong ways, and the primarily wrong way is to try leading. C-stores’ success lies in following the flow of the market, while whipping out some original tricks of their own – but that doesn’t mean you can’t be aggressive.
Add variety: The most successful c-stores navigating this market are bringing in new brews, and they’re switching up the flavors weekly. The same goes for sugars and creamers; variety. If you feature a wider range of options, you appeal to a wider range of customers.
Punctuate quality: Customers are getting selective, and with good reason: They’re paying more for their cup. Your customer base is likely to broaden regardless of what you do – an influx of coffee reformers will be hungry for price reductions. Don’t lose them over bad coffee.
Freshen up the display: Try organizing or re-structuring your coffee set up. Add more shelves. Put some signage around the counter. Add some color. Put a chalkboard overhead announcing the day’s brews. Make it pleasant, but more importantly? Make it efficient. The last thing you want is people tripping over each other with coffee in hand.
Integrate other forms of marketing: Sprint now features an app for their herds of morning customers. The app pings them about the latest offers, flavors, specials – it’s a great way to build brand loyalty while also promoting Sprint’s coffee. If you don’t have the money to build an app, any form of social media can help spread your word. Try posting on Facebook, or Twitter, about your daily specials and what you’ve got to offer.
Capitalize on the checkout: Man your cashier posts with a stack of cups. Encourage cashiers to ask exiting customers if they’d like some coffee.
Capitalize on impulse sales: Bob Phibbs, The Retail Doctor himself, claims that curb signage is effective only from dawn until 11 am. But during that time, curb appeal is highly effective. It grabs the attention of morning drivers and walkers.
The only wrong way to innovate in the current coffee market, is not to innovate at all. Do something. If your budget doesn’t allow you to add new flavors, re-arrange your set up. Draw attention to your coffee. Be original. Brainstorm with your team. Emphasize customer satisfaction and build upon customer loyalty. Convenience stores are now coffee contenders whether they like it or not. Your best bet would be to dive in, think up some killer promotional tactics and delight in a new wave of innovation, customers and coffee sales that will fill your store.
Are you ready to step up your game in the convenience store coffee market? If so, our Java Geniuses are anxiously awaiting (too much coffee) to help you build a coffee station that rivals the best of them. Call 866-452-8228 or click below, and grab your rightful portion of the coffee market today.