Leading convenience store brands compete directly with QSRs and coffee shops with coffee service—and they’re winning
By NACS Online // September 25, 2019
No longer is getting coffee at a convenience store an afterthought—it has become a destination. Today’s leading brands compete directly with quick-service restaurants and coffee shops. Though the underdog in comparison to some worldwide chains, in this competition c-stores are winning.
Consumer ratings of gas station coffee have consistently improved since September 2016. Nearly 60% of convenience store coffee ratings are now positive.
Gas Buddy’s new “The State of Gas Station Coffee” report reveals the top brands and the highest-performing states, as well as the fact that that gas station coffee is getting better each year. This special report takes a closer look at the past three years of coffee ratings, leveraging the insights provided by more than 12 million active monthly users.
According to a recent Technomic survey of consumer perceptions of coffee brands, Cumberland Farms ranks at No. 4—directly ahead of Dunkin’. Indeed, 12 of the top 20 U.S. brands for coffee quality are convenience retailers. The list includes popular brands like Kwik Trip, Ricker’s, Sheetz and Pilot Flying J.
Coffee has become big business for retailers. Wawa now sells an estimated 200 million cups of coffee annually, and GasBuddy data show that Wawa’s 2018 National Coffee Day promotions resulted in an 8.4% visit uplift, compared with the previous week’s traffic. To further compete with coffee shops and QSRs, Cumberland Farms recently launched a coffee subscription service that conveniently provides two cups per day for a low, monthly fee.
National Coffee Day 2019 is Sunday, September 29, and national convenience store chains, QSRs and coffeeshops are offering a host of deals and freebies. For example, Cumberland Farms is offering a free hot or iced java, with all added flavor shots, creamers and sweeteners—including pumpkin spice—on the house. Pilot Flying J is giving away any size hot or cold coffee, while 7-Eleven is offering any size coffee for $1.
Among all foodservice beverages, hot dispensed make up the largest percentage of sales at 12.4% in 2018, according to the NACS State of the Industry Report of 2018 Data. Coffee accounted for more than 71% of sales volume in the category, averaging $40,252 in annual sales per stores, SOI data indicate.