Health-conscious vending has arrived. NAMA has Balanced for Life, VendingMarketWatch.com announces school-mandated restrictions on vendible products daily, and consumers are requesting more baked, limited-calorie snacks. The drinks market is no exception, and on the upward swing is a unique drink that is as convenient as it is low in calories.
Crystal Light is available to OCS operators in single-serve packets for 8 ounces of water or the newer On The Go packet style for use with 20-ounce bottles of water. The 5-calorie per 8-ounce serving, powdered drink mix is considered a win for all.
Positive consumer reaction
"We saw the product at a NAMA convention day one and got excited about it," said Kirby Newbury, CEO of Discount Coffee.com, Lake Saint Louis, Mo., an Internet discount coffee and allied product distributor. "We saw the application."
Newbury's customers love it. For example, a lot of people who work out like to have a bottle of water at hand, which makes this a great product for them, said Newbury. Diabetes is more of a concern today, and with Crystal Light being sugar-free, it's a nice drink alternative for those affected. "If you're not in the On the Go business for bottled water, you're missing the boat," said Newbury.
Randy Parks, president of Prostar Services, Carrollton, Texas, said, "They (customers) obviously enjoy having something more interesting than plain water. It's the spice of life." The market, once dominated by carbonated beverages, is now moving to non-carbonated beverages. Crystal Light is ideal for that reason, said Parks. "It's a continuously growing product for us as our consumers shift away from carbonated beverages." Plus, any item that is low in fat and low in calories is on the rise in the current environment. People are more concerned about health, added Parks.
Opportunity for driving sales
This trend hasn't been lost on locations. Employers purchasing Crystal Light also see it as a benefit they can offer to their employees, said Parks. It's a nice supplement to a plain glass of water, he said.
Gus Kroustalis, gourmet coffee manager of Gallins Vending, Winston Salem, N.C., noticed Crystal Light has generated the most excitement with employers who want to give their employees extra perks. "Having Crystal Light as a part of the product group can include everyone," he said, "because not everyone is a coffee drinker. It's a great tool to have for sales and customer service because you please more people with it than without it." Kroustalis noted health is in the news and people want taste without sacrificing calories. "They are drinking the water they should and adding flavor to it. It's not a hard sell."
Becky Palmer, warehouse manager of the jail commissary run by Mid America Services, Dallas, Texas, said revenues went up 37 percent when Mid America Services started offering Crystal Light. Since the inmates aren't allowed bottled drinks, the Crystal Light singles are a great option they can mix with a glass of water, explained Palmer.
Crystal Light not only sells itself, but with the addition of On The Go packets, it is also selling bottled water. James Barber, purchasing and warehouse manager, Classic Food Service, Durham, N.C., said "We've been marketing it through our OCS sales to coincide with our Dasani sales." Crystal Light has helped to move not only product, but also water sales since it utilizes the 20-ounce bottles, added Barber.
With a case of water, On The Go is a great product and one we should always offer said Kroustalis. He often gives away a box of Crystal Light with a case of purchased water, and not just to locations who aren't using Crystal Light, but as customer appreciation. His results make it worth it.
A motivational sales tool
Used as an allied product for drivers and salespeople, Crystal Light is a big opportunity, said Newbury. Drivers can take sales a step further with product placement. "Train drivers to get the boxes out of the cabinet and on the countertop," said Newbury. Put them near the water cooler or get creative. The boxes are great, with bright colors and appealing graphics, he added.