Tis The Season To Maximize Your Hot Beverage Program

Dec. 7, 2015

Office coffee service continues to be a sales driver for many operators across the U.S. According to Automatic Merchandiser’s State of the Coffee Service Industry report, this year OCS revenues showed a jump of 5.5 percent over the previous year.

This time of year, however, can be slow for OCS operators because of location shutdowns and workforce changes due to the holidays. In order to counter stale sales, operators should offer seasonal selections, natural OCS pairings and high-quality, low calorie OCS options in order to get past the holiday slump and maximize their hot beverage programs.

Spice up seasonal offerings

Candy & Snack Today, a National Confectioners Association publication, reported last year that by thinking like a consumer during seasonal periods, retailers can make the most out of a holiday. That means offering seasonal products. Seasonal beverages can help operators combat the lull of the holiday season, and in OCS that means offering “winter” flavors beyond regular coffee.

Market research company The NPD Group found that seasonal beverage offerings can spur additional purchases by established customers, bring in new consumers, draw customers from competitors, and stimulate business during slow periods. Operators should be looking ahead to offer hot teas with a cinnamon or nutmeg flavor and single serve coffee options with peppermint. The flavors don’t necessarily need to focus on one particular holiday event; rather, they should encompass seasonal “winter” flavors, so that when employees return from the holidays and start the New Year, they can still find their limited time offering (LTO) favorites—before they disappear.

Complementary items

What’s better than a customer purchasing one item? When they purchase two items, of course! By suggesting a tag-a-long or complementary item to go with a customer’s morning, afternoon or evening hot beverage, operators increase the likelihood of double purchases. In a micro market, this can be as simple as offering a discount on a combined purchase of a hot tea or coffee and a pastry. Route drivers should place like-items in an easily identifiable location near the hot beverages to emphasize the pairings and use signage to inform the consumer of the limited-time discount or food partnership.

This also means offering accessory items as part of OCS offerings, such as hot beverage add-ins like honey, sweeteners, creamers and other items like lids and straws. In fact, creamers, sweeteners, cups and paper products accounted for more than 8 percent of OCS sales last year, Automatic Merchandiser reported.

High quality, low calorie options

Many consumers use the New Year to begin exercising and eating healthier. Euromonitor International, a leading strategic market research firm, reported that in 2014, many consumers were interested in purchasing higher-quality health and wellness food and beverages, but despite their desire to eat healthy, they tended to be unwilling to sacrifice taste.

Operators should be sure to offer high quality, low calorie hot beverage options for consumers when they return from the holidays. Although plain coffees and teas are generally low in calories, add-ins to those beverages can increase calorie-count. Operators should emphasize no-calorie sweeteners and highlight low-fat creamers as options for consumers.

All this suggests that cold weather and winter-specific pairings are sure to drive OCS revenues even higher this coming holiday season.