Consumers want to choose their own adventure, especially when it comes to drinks: 17% of consumers say that when deciding where to purchase a beverage, it is important to them that they have the ability to customize, according to Technomic’s 2018 Beverage report. With an array of fountain drinks, bottled and canned items and frozen beverage machines, convenience store retailers already offer an array of options. To encourage more purchases, retailers just need to encourage their customers to experiment and branch out. Check out what’s on the up-and-up in 2019 when it comes to cold and icy beverages.
Consumers are ordering iced, blended drinks more often. According to Technomic’s Beverage report, 9% of respondents say they are ordering cold or iced or blended coffee more often, and 38% say they are ordering smoothies more. C-store retailers can prepare to meet these demands by offering a variety of frozen beverages as well as allowing customers to have fun and own their slushie creations, from mixing more than one flavor to adding toppings and more.
The best way to vary frozen offerings is with a multi-purpose cold-beverage machine. Granita machines from FETCO can produce a wide range of frozen options, such as iced or frozen coffee or tea as well as slushies and frozen lemonade and even frozen yogurt, sorbet and more. The two- or three-dispenser model offers customers greater variety in a slim footprint and gives retailers the option to offer new and unique choices.
Consider texture, too
With frozen drinks, it’s not just about flavor variety, but texture as well, from thinner and icy to thick and indulgent. FETCO’s Granita machines can dial in up to nine different ice-viscosity levels. Each setting offers customers a different sensation and mouthfeel. The machine’s exclusive double-auger design optimizes taste and flavor.
Tweak the trends
Enhance the frozen drink program by incorporating key 2019 beverage trends. For example, interest in sour and fermented drinks is skyrocketing. This includes kombucha, shrubs, switchels and other drinking vinegars, as well as pickle juice. While these might seem a little out there, chains such as Sonic Drive-Ins have found great success serving up some of these trending drinks—Sonic served up pickle juice slushies last year to cheering praise from customers. That might not be on the horizon for c-stores, but try loading the granita machine with trending drinks such as sour options for a unique frozen beverage offering.
Consumers are ordering better-for-you drinks, too, according to Technomic’s Beveragereport. Fermented beverages such as kombucha and shrubs fit this criterion, and 55% of consumers say they are ordering these beverages more often. Coconut water also wears a healthy halo, with 42% of consumers ordering it more often. Yogurt is a good source of probiotics, and frozen yogurt shakes will please the health-focused crowd, especially if they can stir in flavored syrups to customize. One thing is for sure: to remain competitive, retailers should keep an ear to the ground to learn more about drink trends and rotate them into the selection regularly.
Flavors on the rise
Offering new and exciting flavors is key to increased purchases. Citrus is a perennial favorite, but consumers want more than the standard orange, lemon and lime choices. They are eager to explore unfamiliar or less common citruses, such as colorful blood oranges, sweeter Meyer lemons, aromatic Key limes, and yuzu, a Japanese citrus.
Cactuses are popping up on more drink (and food) menus, as well. Specifically, spiny fruits like prickly pear and dragon fruit. Spark customer interest with an LTO of a prickly pear slushie.
Invite customers to layer different slushie drinks in a single cup for a unique experience. Alternate frozen lemonade with layers of frozen tea, for example, or combine lemongrass granita with ginger kombucha. In clear cups or glassware, these layered creations look colorfully striped and can even serve as free advertising if they’re dispensed into logo cups featuring the c-store’s name.
Extend that customization concept to the entire beverage area, and let customers get creative. For instance, they could add a frozen dollop to their choice any fountain drink for a flavor boost, such as topping a cup of cola with a swirl of cherry slushie or adding chocolate granita to cold brew coffee. The more customizable choices