People are creatures of habit. We get out of bed at the same time, start our day by visiting the same website, and go to the same place for our morning coffee on the way to work.
Although consumers’ habits may be hard to change, doing so can have a significant impact on your business.
While the number of trips per week that consumers make to convenience stores decreased between 2014 and 2017, dropping from 3.6 to 2.6, consumers continue to frequent c-stores for coffee purchases.
These coffee purchases can be the key to reversing that trend in visit frequency, as well as increasing spend.
After all, if people become accustomed to getting their morning coffee from you, it’s natural for them to make that a regular—perhaps even daily—habit. And if they’re already visiting your c-store for coffee, it would make sense for them to fill up an empty tank, buy a sandwich for lunch, or make another kind of purchase too.
Coffee seems like such a small purchase, but it can really be a catalyst for changing customers’ behavior and generating more revenue.
So how can you perk up your coffee program?
- Get the Word Out.
Sometimes the simplest solution can have the most impact. Basic signage in your store windows and at the fuel pump will remind customers of your offerings and may prompt a craving. And with 70% of consumers stopping at c-stores only for fuel, reminding them of coffee and triggering that desire for a hot cup can make a substantial difference.
In fact, a study conducted by Coca-Cola found that 32% of c-store customers noticed signage and were influenced to make a purchase on the same visit. An additional 21% noticed it and were influenced to make a purchase in the future. In short, signage is too important to ignore.
Beyond just posting “we have coffee” signage, you should consider including your coffee in promotions. You can run an “add-on” promotion for select items, as in “buy a coffee and get a discounted breakfast bar.” You can run a limited-time offer with special new seasonal flavors. And if you are willing to sacrifice the margins, you can tie in fuel discounts by offering a “buy X number of coffees and get a Y% fuel discount” promotion.
- Amp Up Your Club Programs.
Punch cards and digital punch card programs are easy to set up and simple for customers to use. But best of all, they’re incredibly effective when done correctly.
For example, an important study featured two groups of customers being given car wash punch cards.
Group A received a punch card that would be stamped each time they got a car wash. When they filled up their 8-stamp card, they got a free car wash. As the people in Group A got closer to their reward, their time between visits actually decreased from 18 days to 13 or 14. That’s an incremental increase of 6 to 8 visits per year per customer.
Group B likewise received a car wash punch card, but instead of being given an 8-stamp card, they got a 10-stamp card with 2 stamps already rewarded. Both groups still had to get 8 car washes to get the final car wash for free, but Group B started out with 2 complimentary punches.
The result? The time between washes decreased even more as the reward grew closer, dropping from 15 days to just 11. Visiting every 11 days as opposed to every 18 equates to a full 13 more visits per year per customer.
Employing some proven psychology can make your customers feel valued while inspiring them to earn rewards. It can also make quite a difference to your bottom line.
- Connect with Your Customers.
Your customers want to interact with you in the way that’s most convenient for them. And while a punch card may work best for some, others might prefer a digital punch card program that can be accessed on their phones.
Connecting with your customers via an app or optimized website allows you to send messages that influence behavior. Push notifications, for instance, appear on customers’ devices and can be a great way to convey members-only offers.
SMS text messages have a 98% read rate and a 45% response rate. Needless to say, a simple text message can have a massive impact on customer behavior.
Geofencing encourages visits by sending messages to your customers when they are within a certain radius of your store. It can also revolutionize your pump-to-store promotions, as a message promoting “buy X amount of a product and get Y cents off per gallon” can be sent to customers while they’re at your pump.
It’s easy to take a coffee program for granted, but it can have a strong influence on people’s habits. Being able to upsell that coffee into greater spend and increased visits will help turn your coffee program from lukewarm to piping hot.
If you would like help with optimizing your coffee program or want to discuss loyalty programs in general, our experts can help. Learn more about convenience store loyalty programs here.