How to stock hot drinks post-lockdown

15 September 2021, 10:03 AM
  • Make your hot drinks work harder by stocking eye-catching products that align with the latest trends

Hot drinks are a hot ticket at any time of year, but the consumer thirst for indulgent options powers up as the colder days descend. It’s fair to say that Brits have a soft spot for teas, coffees and other hot drinks: the UK leads the way for percentage of wallet share spent on hot drinks to go, according to Kantar, and this appetite has shown no signs of abating during the Covid-19 pandemic – though spending did shift to in-home, quality hot drinks and kit.

For retailers and café owners looking to refresh their stock ahead of the colder months, the key is to look for quality options with great packaging, provenance and personalisation appeal. And while tried and true favourites still have a place on the shelf, there are new consumer trends to consider. 

Health matters

Shoppers are now addressing their health and wellbeing more than ever before – something the pandemic accelerated. “Consumers across the globe are adopting a holistic health approach to life, recognising that all aspects of health are interlinked. This adoption is leading to consumers wanting to address all areas of health and wellness to help them stay healthier for longer and avoid any risk of future illness,” said Will Cowling of FMCG Gurus.

The group’s research shows that hot drinks like tea and coffee are a product category consumers find appealing when looking to improve a number of areas of their health. For example, 45% of consumers would be interested in hot drinks positioned around helping improve sleeping patterns, and 55% of consumers like to see claims around actively improving skincare health on tea and coffee products.

What’s more, 36% of consumers would like to see claims around actively improving digestive health on tea and coffee products, and 35% of consumers would like to see claims around actively improving cognitive health on tea and coffee products. 

“This highlights an opportunity for brands and manufacturers to position hot drink products aiding a number of different health issues, as consumers actively seek our products that can boost their health even if not currently suffering from any illness,” Will said.

Tradition vs innovation in coffee

Thanks to constant innovation and NPD throughout the coffee sector, the days of “instant or French press?” are well behind us. From cold brew to nitro coffee and roasted-on-site blends, there’s plenty out there to excite discerning coffee drinkers… and the good news is that the buzzwords these shoppers are looking out for are well within the comfort zones of independent fine food retailers. 

There’s so much innovation that it can be easy to lean too heavily into trends which might fall flat with your customer base, so ensure that you keep a strong stock of what you know sells: great-tasting high quality beans and ready-ground options, so you have a solid foundation from which to experiment with the wackier options out there. 

Tea with a purpose

We all know that Brits love tea – we’re famous for it – but the nation is confidently stepping towards modern iterations of the brew in place of the classic builder’s cuppa. With more herbal infusions to explore than ever before, ethical credentials inspiring buying decisions, and quality a key consideration, there’s plenty for indie retailers to dive into. 

There are some exciting innovations, too; check out Waterdrop’s cube-shaped ‘microtea’ which can be dissolved straight into water. Traditional black tea options are still strong sellers, though – look for quality, provenance and eye-catching packaging to quench your customers’ thirst for great tea.

Explore indulgence with hot chocolate

For fully fledged indulgence, nothing quite beats a hot chocolate – especially during the colder months. While undoubtedly a favourite with kids, there are plenty of decadent options out there for adult chocolate lovers too, which means it’s worth taking a look beyond classic milk hot chocolates into the realms of higher percentage ones.

Great quality hot chocolate is a popular gift option, particularly during autumn and winter, so keep an eye out for attractive and indulgent-looking packaging that anyone would be delighted to see in a festive hamper.

Personalise your offering

With personalisation the name of the game – not least after months of shoppers making their hot drinks at home just how they like them – a selection of syrups will tick that box with flair to spare. There are loads of options on the market; try seasonal flavours like pumpkin spice and gingerbread options around autumn and Christmas-time, and keep a stash of classics like vanilla, caramel and hazelnut available all year round. Chai syrup is a quick and convenient way to make great chai lattes, but in-the-know customers may opt for a ‘dirty chai latte’: a chai latte served with a shot of espresso for a caffeine hit.

Discover the inside scoop on cafés in 2021 and great stocking ideas by downloading Café Buyer here.

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