Iced Tea Sales on the Rise at C-Stores

According to a new report, rising numbers of consumers are purchasing cold tea at convenience stores, citing taste, cleanliness, quality, and value as the most important purchasing factors.

In its spring 2017 Convenience Store Consumer Marketbrief, foodservice research firm Technomic reports that 44 percent of all convenience store consumers purchase dispensed tea from c-stores on a monthly basis, with younger consumers and males being the heaviest users.

Of those 44 percent, more than a third of those surveyed (39 percent) are buying more brewed cold tea from convenience stores than they did a year ago. Nearly seven out of 10 choose iced tea from the fountain, while 61 percent said they also choose cold specialty teas and 59 percent also choose self-serve hot tea.

More than three-quarters of c-store consumers indicated that they prefer sweetened tea to unsweetened; and 77 percent said they prefer caffeinated. Slightly more than half of respondents preferred green tea of the hot tea flavors, followed by lemon, peach, chai, and Earl Grey. For iced tea, the favorite flavor was lemon (43 percent), followed by green tea, peach, and generally “sweet” profiles and raspberry accents.

Fast-growing iced tea flavors such as orange and hibiscus are influencing tastes; orange-flavored iced teas saw 50 percent increases in instance on menus year on year, and hibiscus permeated menus with a 32 percent increase. Other fast-growing iced tea flavors include strawberry, mint, berry, and honey.

“Just as the coffee bar heralds unique limited time offers (LTOs) in the fall and winter, c-store operators should seek out flavor trends to differentiate their beverage offering in the summer,” reports CSP magazine, citing Dunkin’ Donuts’ fruited iced teas, Pret a Manger’s iced blueberry green tea, and Panera Bread Co.’s passion papaya green tea, as some of the trend-forward spring offerings this year.

Younger consumers between 18 and 34 reported a leaning toward foodservice teas that have healthy benefits: half of that age group prefer tea for an energy boost, while 47 percent say they choose tea for its vitamin content.

While taste is the top purchase driver, the report found that cleanliness matters too. Of both hot and cold tea drinkers, 83 percent said that a clean foodservice area influences their decision to purchase tea from a convenience store.

Afternoon is the preferred time of day for tea purchases: 47 percent of consumers said they prefer to visit c-stores for tea in the afternoon, compared to 33 percent who prefer tea in the morning and 20 percent who purchase in the evening.

Source: CSP magazine