Report: Most Convenience Store Coffee And Beverage Purchases Are ‘Purpose-Driven’

July 22, 2014

Getting a cup of coffee or another dispensed beverage is the single-minded mission of many high frequency convenience store visitors, and often they'll grab a donut or something else to go with it, according to convenience store research by The NPD Group, a market research company.

NPD's Convenience Store Monitor, which tracks the consumer purchasing behavior of more than 51,000 convenience store shoppers in the U.S., finds that 86 percent of dispensed coffee purchases are planned and seven percent are purchased on a deal. Other dispensed beverages are also purpose-driven purchases with only 14 percent bought on impulse and 13 percent on a deal. Consumers of coffee and other dispensed beverages are high frequency buyers who represent68 percent more visits than the average convenience store customer.

Coffee and other dispensed beverages represent 31 percent of unit purchases made in a convenience store, and of the dispensed beverage consumers, 33 percent are looking for coffee, 11 percent cappuccino or latte and 3 percent hot or iced tea. Typically, with the dispensed beverage incremental purchases are made amounting to an average visit of $6.83. Forty-five percent of consumers who purchase their coffee between 6 a.m. and 10 a.m. tend to also purchase doughnuts, gum, sweet rolls, sandwiches, breakfast sandwiches, snack cakes, and cookies, reports NPD.

Dispensed beverage buyers are different than average convenience store buyers, who tend to be blue collar males, 18 to 49 years-old, according to the Convenience Store Monitor. Dispensed beverage buyers tend to be female, ages 35-64, white collar, Hispanic and from larger households. Coffee buyers tend to be male, ages 45 to 65, a mix of white and blue collar, strong military connection, smaller households and higher income.

"The fact that the buyers of coffee and other dispensed beverages are defined differently than the typical convenience store visitor presents an incremental opportunity for c-stores," said David Portalatin, executive director of industry analysis at NPD in a prepared statement. "If a convenience store can deliver on what dispensed beverage buyers are looking for in terms of product quality, a rewards program, and a clean and bright store, it can attract a loyal new customer base."

"The fact that coffee and other dispensed beverages are purpose-driven purchases is a ready-made niche for any convenience store ready and willing to compete with QSRs and other retail outlets offering coffee and beverages," said Portalatin. "If a convenience store is looking for a way in which to distinguish itself from its gasoline or other offering, dispensed beverages appear to be among the possible answers."