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Server suggestions encourage diners to try new beverages, says Technomic

CHICAGO (August 9, 2010)—Waitstaff suggestions can encourage diners to try new beverages, finds a new report from foodservice consultant Technomic. Nearly one quarter of consumers (23 percent) say they would consider trying a beverage they had not tried before, if their waiter recommended it.

Servers were most influential among Heavy Beverage Users, a third of whom (30 percent) said a suggestion would impact their beverage purchase. “This likely indicates that these consumers are more open to trying new beverages overall and suggests that operators may be able to use server recommendations to market new, limited-time offers or seasonal beverages toward this group,” says Darren Tristano, EVP at Technomic.

The findings are part of the new Beverage Consumer Trend Report, developed to help restaurant operators and manufacturers stay on top of current trends and evolving consumer needs for non-alcoholic beverages. The report examines more than two dozen beverage types including soft drinks, coffee beverages, bottled water, sports, energy and fusion drinks, lemonade, tea, smoothies and more.

Interesting findings include:

  • Almost nine out of ten consumers (86 percent) purchased a beverage away from home in the last month. Of those, 24 percent purchase a beverage away from home on a daily basis.
  • On average, consumers drink about seven types of beverages per month, and purchase an average of three varieties away from home.
  • Although two out of five consumers are interested in premium (43 percent) and healthy (42 percent) beverage options, consumers report taste (76 percent) and quality (73 percent) trump other factors in importance in the purchase decision.
  • The number of consumers making beverage-only purchases at fast-food restaurants is increasing. About a third of consumers (36 percent) say they have visited a fast-food establishment in the last month and bought only a beverage, up from 24 percent in 2008.
  • Convenience stores are an important channel for beverages. Two out of five convenience store customers (42 percent) say they have made four or more beverage-only purchases there in the last month.
  • Tea is growing in prevalence as a beverage option on restaurant menus.

The Beverage Consumer Trend Report contains menu, consumer and competitive insights that will help industry professionals understand current and emerging menu trends and consumer consumption behavior, purchasing decisions, attitudes and preferences for beverages.

Findings in the Consumer Insights section are based on an online survey of more than 1,500 U.S. Away-From-Home Beverage consumers conducted in June 2010. Additional insights are provided by segmenting data into Heavy, Moderate and Light User groups. Where relevant, comparisons are made to data from the 2008 Beverage Consumer Trend Report.

Menu Insights utilizes Technomic’s exclusive MenuMonitor database to look at how leading and emerging chains in both the full-service and limited-service segments are menuing and positioning non-alcoholic beverages. The Outlook: Trends to Watch section pulls together important menu, marketing, concept and consumer trends for the beverage category.

Appendices include menu and concept profiles for 15 emerging coffee and beverage concepts, and demographic information on consumers of 35 leading brands.

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