For the modern customer, speed and convenience are top priorities when it comes to their food and beverage choices however, quality is now just as important and is a pull for customer spend. But can we have it all? Can you provide a fast and convenient offer without skimping on excellence? Apparently we can and it’s drink market that is showing us how! We take a look into how the beverage category of F&B is letting us have our cake and eat it too.
Drinks of the past were pre-packaged items like fruit juices or sodas as well as quick-serve coffee that functioned as a kick starter first thing in the morning or to cure 3:30pm blues. These concepts were innovative and exciting when they first appeared on the scene and most of all, they were convenient. However, as the customer evolved so did their desires and expectations. The beverage category has responded to this evolution creating new products as well as service models to ensure that they are still convenient but also of high quality, functional and customisable.
Data has shown that people find handmade and fresh juices and smoothies more appealing than their ready-made counterparts. In saying that, they still want the regular juice flavours like orange and apple however they want to know it’s been cold-pressed and bottled that day. There is also an interest in vegetable juices with the popularity of green juices spiking as consumer’s become more conscious of their health. What is important to the consumer is that these items are as pure as they should be – without the artificial ingredients and preservatives that have to be added to pre-packaged items. As an operator, providing the option of cold-pressed, fresh juices does not necessarily mean having to install a juicing station in your shop as there are a number of independent suppliers like Organic Avenue (Australia) have popped up on the scene who do all the juicing for you. Going on from this, well curated and customer-centric food precincts of today have fresh juice offers as part of the F&B mix as good quality drink options are as important as good quality food options with 27% of people now choosing a drink when they are deciding what to snack on, according to data analysers, Datassentials.
The coffee category has skyrocketed as well with specialty coffee being the standard expectation of customers, particularly here in Australia. If it doesn’t have latte art, an option of soy, almond or coconut milk for those avoiding dairy or there is no single-origin option on the menu – you might find consumers turning their nose up at it. Coffee has been so successful that retail stores like Glue at Emporium, Melbourne and retail store giant, David Jones have integrated concept coffee stores into their business model, recruiting some of the top coffee makers and sourcing high-quality coffee beans from local and international growers. With the growing demand, coffee machine makers gave eagerly responded creating machines that can manage increased quantities without minimising the quality of coffee that comes out. That paired with the growing barista talent across the globe, getting an excellent coffee quickly has never been easier.
Other movements include health food offers giving the people the option of self-designed smoothies to suit their tastes and needs. There has also been a transformation of the smoothie menu which has seen sugar-laden ingredients such as frozen yoghurts and pre-packaged fruit juices that were once relied on for taste replaced by more nutritious and wholesome alternatives such as plain Greek yoghurt, plant-based milks and real, whole fruit. These are just a number of other ways that the drinks category of F&B is ensuring they stay up to date with their consumers and provide them with a product they want to spend their money on. Yes, it may be a slightly higher price point but we have seen time and time again that consumers are happy to pay a dollar or two more if they are guaranteed quality along with convenience and ease of purchase.
Drinks are now standing up on their own and aren’t just a way of up-selling or creating a meal combo option. People are arranging meetings around coffees or cold-pressed juices, ordering smoothies for lunch, taking photos of their latte art and drinking for their health rather than for taste alone. The category has responded by creating products and business models which give consumers access to high-quality products at every point from in the fridge at the sandwich bar to a pop-up concept alongside a retail precinct ensuring that the modern customer needs of convenience, speed and quality are all met equally.