By now, everyone is loving and selling our great new Reserve Blend coffee, but in case you did not attend our kick-off meeting, let’s review why we launched this high quality, sustainably sourced blend. First and foremost, as in everything we do, we reacted to our customer’s changing preferences and requests. Over the past few years, our coffee cup unit sales have been falling behind – and with fewer coffee customers comes less traffic into your stores, and fewer add-on sales. In short, coffee is our most important product in driving store visits and market basket sales. So why have our sales been eroding?
When McDonald’s finally began to offer a quality coffee, to complement their breakfast offer, customers no longer needed to make two stops. Even a McMuffin lover could now get a decent cup right at McD’s. And, don’t forget, much of the time their coffee was offered at only $1. Then, in part two of their expansion, McCafe launched with espresso-based drinks to go after the afternoon consumer.
Other Quick Serve Restaurants
We have seen the entrance of Subway, BK, White Castle, and Taco Bell into the breakfast arena, all with varying success, but each satisfying a coffee customer on the go with a decent quality cup of coffee. C-Stores: Our competitors in this arena have upped their game as well! 7-Eleven with an improved cup, coffee bar look, and offer. Hess now offers Dunkin or Green Mountain in all stores. Even local mom and pops are able to offer a good cup. Quite simply, we needed to up our game to compete!
Consumers taste preferences have changed. In part because of McD’s entry, consumers now crave a more QSR type blend, which are richer and bolder, in lieu of the Donut Shop taste profile. In looking at our own internal data, our regular coffee sales were trending down while Dark Roast, Colombian, and Extreme Caffeine were seeing significant growth. Again, we needed to change to compete and meet our customers’ changing preferences.
The Coffee You Love Just Got Better!
After a tremendous amount of sourcing work, cupping, and focus group testing, we developed our new reserve Blend – sustainably sourced from Brazilian and Colombian farms with a medium body and smooth finish. The beans are roasted slightly longer and at higher temperatures which results in a rich, bold taste experience.
We tested in six stores, and after seeing strong customer reaction, we made the decision to convert all stores to the new blend, replacing our everyday regular. In addition to customer comments, we saw real coffee unit growth of 3% in those stores! That is a huge number! Customers were obviously enjoying the new blend, and spreading the word. We launched corporately on Sept 29th with an introductory celebration, offering customers the chance to try any size for just 99 cents. This was a full marketing promotion with radio, billboard, digital media, in-store signage – and of course, you, our great Team Members, to serve our customers. The response was phenomenal!
At the same time, we refreshed our entire coffee bar, with new signage, improved coffee wraps and signage, and followed up with the relaunch of our new look retail bagged coffee and introduction of our QuickChek Reserve Blend Single Serve Mesh Cup for Keurig brewers.
While there is a lot going on to drive our core coffee offer, we are not stopping there! With 65 QCafé locations up and running, and the rest of the chain expected to be installed by May 1st, we will soon be offering and promoting high-quality espresso-based drinks, smoothies, and frozen blended drinks in all stores. The made-toorder drinks start at the CTS, where a wide range of customization options are available. Each quality drink is then hand crafted by a QC Team Member. This is a huge investment in the future of QuickChek as we continue to drive to be the leader in Food and Beverage quality in the United States!
Lastly, as just mentioned above, we were selected as the highest quality hot coffee and highest quality food service among the top 22 convenience retailers in the United States. That’s right – move over Wawa, 7-Eleven, Hess, and everyone else – we are #1!!
We will heavily focus on coffee, breakfast and morning traffic throughout the winter and spring, beginning with the Reserve Blend, and then with hot promotions such as the 2/$2 hot breakfast offer. Your store team commitment to quality, cleanliness, in stock, freshness, and service, along with our QC marketing plans, will help us beat the competition and lead the marketplace in the coffee experience.