up button image
Industry Innovation

C-Store Retailers to Boost Beverage Category

Convenience Retailers Showcase New Beverage Offerings

beverage cooler at a convenience store

here were signs of changing beverage consumption patterns in the past, as witnessed by many C-Stores, but the pandemic gave them a major push.  There was a decline in beverage consumption already, but the pandemic caused this decline to accelerate further.  C-Stores like QuikTrip, Circle K, and Wawa are partnering with beverage retailers to bring a greater variety of beverages to their outlets.

Current Situation

Today, the share of packaged beverages is 21% of the total revenue of C-Stores, according to Marketing Data.  However, beverage sales through C-Stores are only 29.4% of the total beverage sales in the United States. The rest of the beverages are sold through other channels like grocery stores, restaurants, etc.  Looking at this, it was only logical that C-Stores revamp their beverage selling strategy.  

“As restaurants increasingly position themselves as ideal and convenient locations for a quick beverage or snack, C-Stores must continue to develop and nurture their appeal as a top-of-mind destination for thirsty consumers." Said Robert Byrne, the Senior Manager of Consumer Insights for Chicago-based Technomic.

The change in consumer trends causing a decline in beverage sales hasn't impacted all beverage sales in C-Stores.  Adults are increasingly purchasing alcoholic drinks, and the sales of these drinks have been on the rise.  

Analysts at Packaged Facts estimate that demand for beverage goods will revert to normal levels of high sales and growth tendencies after 2022.  In 2024, major product beverage categories are anticipated to exceed $170 billion in sales, this far exceeds sales in 2020.

C-Store Beverage Initiatives

Using PepsiCo's help, Circle K convenience stores will be launching ‘Mountain Dew Major Melon’ at the fountain to add to the beverages sold at the C-Store.  Circle K is also adding 'Wingman Smart Energy Drink' to 189 locations across Colorado.  

“Wingman Smart Energy is the newest product line in our grab-and-go beverage set at Circle K.  We're always looking for unique products for our customers, and Wingman truly delivers on function and taste." Rejoiced Chris Marquez, Category Manager at Rocky Mountain Region, Circle K Stores.

QuikTrip is also following suit to revamp its C-Store beverage strategy by adding ShineWater across all QuikTrip C-Stores across South Carolina and North Carolina.  ShineWater is an enriched version of regular water with electrolytes and the daily intake requirement of Vitamin-D.  ShineWater is available in coconut-lime, kiwi-cucumber, peach-mango, strawberry-lemon, pomegranate-grape, and mixed berry acai flavors.

"Through our delicious, vibrant, zero sugar flavors, you will be able to sip, enjoy, and feel good about the beverage you are drinking all at the same time."  Announced Ryan Coon, the CFO of Bay City, Mich.-based ShineWater.

Wawa Inc. convenience stores weren’t slow to notice what other C-Stores were doing to boost beverage sales.  Wawa is about to release ‘JOCKO GO’ energy drinks to all its 900+ convenience stores.  The keto-diet-friendly, low-calorie beverage comes in six flavors and is sweetened with all-natural monk fruit.  It resonates with consumers who are increasingly seeking natural ingredients.  With 95 mg of caffeine and a little fizz, it is sure to satisfy your energy craving.

"Today's consumers read labels, want clean energy for their active lifestyles, and need healthy choices on-the-go.  Now, they can get that winning combination with JOCKO GO at Wawa across the U.S.," says Pete Roberts, the CEO of Jocko Fuel.

The Modern Beverage Consumer

Today, consumers have a penchant for more natural and environmentally sustainable products.  Customers are adopting more plant-based beverages now more than ever.  Furthermore, customers are looking for drinks with less sugar and natural sweeteners. They are looking for beverages with immunity-boosting ingredients like turmeric, ginger, antioxidants, vitamins, and probiotics.

beverage cooler in convenience store

Beverage categories that comprise today’s inventory include bottled water, juices, sports drinks, sodas, flavored sparkling water packed with electrolytes, dairy and dairy substitutes.  Energy drinks and coffee are also popular as both of these beverages contain caffeine that stimulates the brain to increase alertness and concentration.  In the future, these trends are here to stay due to their health benefits.  

Energy drinks continue to be the most popular beverage category when we examine C-Stores’ revenue from selling beverages.  According to Nielsen reports, the beverages had $9.2 billion in dollar sales for the 52 weeks ending June 27, up from $8.9 billion in 2019.  For the 52 weeks ending December 27, 2020, Red Bull was the best-selling energy drink brand in U.S.  C-Stores, with sales amounting to about 685 million units.  Monster ranks 2nd – with 430 billion units sold.  

The future of sugary beverages like juices and soda that are full of artificial ingredients is not so bright and any reasonable beverage strategy will have to address this.  Sodas and juices are losing popularity day by day due to their perceived health consequences.  

As we see an evolution in C-Store beverage selling strategies, we can also project that beverage sales in C-Stores are sure to offer substantial rewards for organizations that can smartly implement and market new beverage initiatives.  As consumers become more health-conscious, they will gravitate towards more health-friendly beverages, and the corresponding revenues will reflect this.  

Finally we’ll be able to observe C-Stores exploring untapped markets in search of new consumers as well as witness them implement strategies to complete with restaurants for a greater share in the market.

August 15, 2021