A fifth of today's consumers (21 percent, up from 16 percent in 2012) say that beverages play a very important role in deciding which restaurants to visit for meals.
This increase is primarily driven by consumers aged 18–44, who tend to use beverages for a wide variety of occasions, including snacks and social visits.
Operators are maximizing potential beverage occasions by promoting off-peak dining hours and launching innovative, custom beverages that get people in the door. Consumer demand for variety and customization will lead to even more innovation in terms of beverage type and flavor, and an increasing focus on health and natural ingredients will inspire drink development.
"Operators must focus on increased consumer demand for variety and health when they are developing or revamping their beverage menus," says Darren Tristano, executive vice president of Technomic. "Restaurants with strong beverage programs can play into health and variety by offering customization options for core drinks."
To help foodservice executives understand the latest behaviors, preferences and attitudes of consumers regarding non-alcohol beverages, Technomic has published an update of its Beverage Consumer Trend Report. Interesting findings include:
- Fast-food concepts dominate: 89 percent of consumers purchased food and/or a beverage in the last month at a fast-food restaurant, more than for any other segment.
- Convenience and speed are strong beverage traffic drivers: 44 percent of consumers say they are more likely to visit concepts with than without a drive-thru for beverage-only occasions.
- More than two-fifths of consumers (44 percent, up from 39 percent in 2012) call for healthier beverages at restaurants.
- At least two-fifths of consumers strongly agree that full-service restaurants (46 percent, up from 42 percent in 2010) and fast-food concepts (40 percent) should offer greater beverage variety.