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    Dessert-Inspired Beverages Hit the Sweet Spot

    C-stores need to stay relevant by continuing to offer unique flavors

    By Donna Hood Crecca
    Senior Director, Technomic Inc.

    Dessert-inspired beverages are trending on menus nationwide. In the first quarter of this year, Dunkin? Donuts rolled out Brown Sugar Cinnamon coffee and lattes and brought back iced coffee flavors inspired by Baskin-Robbins? ice cream. Also in Q1, Starbucks unveiled a Tiramisu Latte and Caramel Flan Latte.

    Some of the fastest-growing flavors on non-alcohol beverage menus in the last year include caramel (up 63.6 percent in Q1 2014 vs. Q1 2013), vanilla (up 18.2 percent during the same timeframe), mocha (up 12.5 percent) and hazelnut (up 9.1 percent), indicating the growth of traditional dessert flavors in the beverage menupart.

    Several convenience store operators are innovating to satisfy consumers? desire for sweet sips. Recent c-store dispensed beverage menu additions include Quik Stop?s Whoopie Pie-flavored coffee, QuickChek?s Red Velvet Cupcake coffee and Family Express? cotton candy-flavored Squeeze Freeze frozen beverage.

    Dessert-inspired beverages appeal mostly to younger consumers, who grew up during the Starbucks era drinking beverages like the Frappuccino and now routinely think of specialty beverages as appropriate snacks at various dayparts. However, these very consumers indicate a void in c-store beverage options: 45 percent of consumers aged 18 to 34 say they wish c-stores would offer more unique flavors in their beverages.

    As restaurant beverage menu creativity increases, c-stores need to stay relevant by continuing to offer unique beverages that appeal to consumers ? not only for traditional categories and dayparts, but also for impulse-driven occasions. By offering beverages featuring flavors such as whoopie pie or cotton candy, operators take advantage of diners? nostalgia for classic dessert favorites.

    Another way in which c-stores can incorporate dessert-inspired drinks into their beverage program is by promoting seasonal flavored syrups to add to coffee or carbonated water.

    Whatever the approach, tapping into consumers? thirst for sweet indulgence can drive traffic, frequency and sales.

    By Donna Hood Crecca
    • About Donna Hood Crecca

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