How coffee shops can continue enticing consumers in-store

03 December 2020, 08:32 AM
  • Mike Hughes, head of research and insight at FMCG Gurus, explores how independents can attract customers to their foodservice operations - despite the circumstances
How coffee shops can continue enticing consumers in-store

Even though trips to foodservice channels are part of everyday life for the modern consumer, they can be conscious about visiting such outlets in a pandemic environment.

Currently, under England’s Tier system, cafés can remain open to customers under Tiers 1 and 2, and under Tier 3 they can still provide takeaway and click-and-collect services. In Scotland, similar restrictions are in place, with cafés allowed to remain open up to Tier 3 and provide takeaways in Tier 4.

With this in mind, the coffee shop industry needs to look for ways to innovate to encourage consumers in-store. One way of doing this is through launching limited time offerings that create buzz and excitement and enable consumers to enjoy new flavours and premium treats. This will especially appeal to consumers who like to turn to such offerings as a form of self-expression and like to upload pictures onto social media.

Visits to foodservice channels are no longer seen as an occasional treat but a daily part of life in the 21st century. From a consumer perspective, there are two main reasons for this. Firstly, meal-time fragmentation is occurring, with formal meals becoming less structured and meal skipping, snacking, and on-the-go consumption out-of-home becoming more common.

Secondly, consumers have high levels of self-entitlement and like to treat themselves for reward and escapism purposes on a regular basis. Coffee shops are popular outlets within the foodservice channel, with 73% of consumers saying they have visited such an outlet in the previous six months. However in a pandemic environment, where consumers can be conscious about entering physical stores, innovation is something that will be needed to continue to get consumers in-store. One way of doing this is through introducing limited time offerings within the menu to better capture consumer attention.

FMCG Gurus research shows that 66% of consumers say that they find limited time offerings appealing within the foodservice channel, whilst 24% say that frequently changing offers on the menu is something that can help capture their attention. When asked why they find limited time offers appealing, 64% said it allows them to sample new flavours, whilst 57% said that they associate such offerings with being more premium.

This is something that will appeal to consumers who are seeking out products that push the boundaries of indulgence and offer a genuine treat. This will especially appeal within the coffee shop market given that 72% of consumers say that they find specialty hot coffee offerings appealing within the foodservice sector.

If limited time offerings are to create a genuine buzz amongst consumers and attract them in-store, it is important that such offerings are not on the menu for too long. This is why 65% of consumers who find limited time offerings appealing say they should not be on the menu for more than a month.

Limited time offerings are an effective way of offering consumers something new and exciting and creating standout appeal on the menu. Moreover, such offerings can create genuine buzz and engagement, with consumers often turning to such products as a form of self-expression. This is especially true in an age of social media, where consumers enjoy posting pictures of the specialty and limited time offerings they are enjoying in order to highlight their good taste and sophistication to others.

In a pandemic environment where 44% anticipate fewer trips to foodservice outlets than they did prior to the outbreak, limited time offerings are an effective way of getting consumers back in stores.

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