Beverages strategies can boost restaurant sales, says Technomic

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 2nd October 2012

More than seven out of ten American consumers (71 percent) now purchase beverages away from home twice a week or more often, up 8% on the 66 percent in 2010. As the American economy stabilizes from the recession, restaurants and retail foodservice locations are well-positioned to boost beverage sales. According to a report by strategic consultants Technomics, beverages act as a high-margin add-on that can help increase sales averages for operators and also increase the overall dining experience for consumers by providing an added element of flavor to a meal.

Specialty coffees, specialty teas and smoothies exhibited growth at Top 500 limited-service restaurants. Specialty coffee increased by 10 percent on limited-service menus over the past two years, emerging as one of the segment’s leaders. With the rise of sweet tea, specialty tea listings nearly doubled on menus. Smoothies, including fruit smoothies, grew by 8.5 percent, while the protein-enhanced varieties jumped by 123 percent, proving that smoothies have become a menu mainstay. The leading fruit flavours of LSR smoothies were, in order, strawberry, banana, mango, orange and pineapple.

“Today’s foodservice consumers continue to base dining decisions on their perception of value,” said Technomic Executive Vice President Darren Tristano. “Innovative operators are creating value by crafting new and unique beverages including specialty lemonades, handmade sodas and ‘mocktails’ that are uniquely flavorful, fresh and a better-for-you option.”

With nearly a third (29 percent) of American consumers saying they like to try new and unique beverages, operators can build their credibility and bottom line by leveraging trending flavors with more creative beverage offerings.

Interesting findings include:

  • The number of menu items offered at leading coffee cafés has increased by 18 percent over the past two years, as non-beverage menu development becomes a major focus in this category.
  • 49 percent of women aged 18–24, and 41 percent of all consumers, agree that their beverage preferences tend to change depending on the season/time of the year.
  • Two-thirds of consumers say they drank regular hot coffee (68 percent) and regular soft drinks (66 percent) at least once in the past month. Roughly half of consumers say they purchased regular hot coffee (46 percent) and regular soft drinks (53 percent) from foodservice at least once in the last month.
  • New and unique beverages are a strong traffic driver for young consumers; 47 percent of consumers aged 18-24, compared to 29 percent of consumers overall, say they’d like to try new and unique beverages offered at restaurants.

To help operators and others aligned with the foodservice industry more effectively understand consumer behavior, preferences and attitudes regarding beverages, Technomic has developed the Beverage Consumer Trend Report.

Technomic’s Beverage Consumer Trend Report examines beverage purchasing decisions, attitudes and preferences based on survey results from 1,500 consumers. The Menu Insights section utilizes Technomic’s exclusive MenuMonitor database to provide an in-depth look at how leading and emerging chain operators menu and position beverages. The report also features 20 emerging and innovative beverage concepts and demographic profiles for respondents who have consumed leading beverage brands in the past week.

To purchase or learn more about this report please visit

Technomic provides clients with the facts, insights and consulting support they need to enhance their business strategies, decisions and results. Its services include numerous publications and digital products, as well as proprietary studies and ongoing research on all aspects of the food industry.

Source: Technomic, Inc.