OCS and Vending: Better Together

The recent announcement by the National Beverage and Products Association to discontinue its OCS-only annual trade show may come as no surprise to many industry veterans. Diminishing operator attendance or lack of supplier support – which comes first in this type of situation is usually a “chicken or the egg” scenario – has rung the death toll for the final OCS-only trade show in the industry.

Segment Remains Small

How can this happen in a segment of our industry that has showed, and is still showing, strong revenue growth year after year? I’m sure that many of you have your theories and I have mine. And since I have the platform to share my theory – here it comes.

In the big world of vending and office coffee service, OCS-only operators represent less than 7 percent of the overall industry. Seven percent – or roughly 1,000 OCS operations – really isn’t a big enough market, nor does it generate enough sales volume, for large suppliers to focus on.

Now consider the fact that more than 41 percent of vending operators also include OCS as part of their operations. When you add the additional 1,000 OCS-only operators, the total OCS market becomes more than 6,100 operators. It’s still not a very large segment in the eyes of national suppliers, but nothing to sneeze at either.

Both markets At Once

Manufacturers can justify supporting an industry with a combined sales volume of almost $25 billion in 2005, versus the OCS segment at only $3.92 billion. I can imagine some of you thinking, “How can you say $3.92 billion a year in sales is inconsequential?” Well, in the corporate offices of companies such as Procter & Gamble, the makers of Folgers, $3.92 billion is a blip. A tiny little blip.

That’s why the National Automatic Merchandising Association’s focus on including OCS as part of their overall vending industry approach makes sense. The NAMA Expos give exhibitors the chance to hit the OCS-only operator while still reaching out to the vending operators who include OCS – or better yet – may be adding OCS, thereby becoming a new customer.

Coffee Education Opportunities

NAMA’s OCS education program is extensive, incorporating some of the old National Coffee Service Associations program and integrating many new programs. Every serious OCS-only and vending/OCS operator should attend at least one session of NAMA’s Quality Coffee Certification Program (QCCP). Serious coffee drinkers are snobs – the way wine connoisseurs are snobs – and the QCCP program will help you teach a coffee snob a thing or two.

Jump on board with NAMA. If you are not a member, sign up today. Take advantage of their members-only programs and educational support. Help NAMA help you.