As with most retail-focused conventions, the National Association of Convenience Stores NACS) show enables exhibitors to showcase innovation and new products that target consumers who shop within a specific channel. For beverages, that has long meant new varieties of high volume products in C-stores, such as soda and energy drinks.
However, many beverage exhibitors at the 2015 NACS show indicated that convenience store operators are — like their counterparts in grocery and club — increasingly looking to add natural and better-for-you beverages to their shelves and coolers. It’s a trend that, for C-stores, has been bubbling at the surface for years, but appears to have achieved significant traction over the past 12 months.
Yes, attendees still swarmed colossal booths erected by Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Dr Pepper Snapple, (and ogled bikini-clad representatives working the counters at the Monster, Red Bull and Rockstar booths). However, it was clear that major soda manufacturers sought to highlight their naturally-formulated brands and products as much as any within their portfolios. For Coke, that meant showcasing Zico, Suja and Fairlife. PepsiCo unveiled a new craft soda called 1893 that is made with “real kola nut extract” and Fair Trade Certified sugar, an ingredient that the company is also using as a sweetener for its revamped Aquafina Sparkling drinks. Meanwhile, Muscle Milk doubled down on its organic formulated products with two new protein shakes.
And offering competition to those larger companies booths operated by companies marketing premium and natural beverages like Ito En, Mamma Chia, Organic Valley, Aquahydrate and Hiball. Executives from these companies said they felt there was a high level of interest in their brands from retailers aiming to add products like premium teas, alkaline water, natural protein drinks and cold brew coffee to their stores.
In the following video, BevNET takes a deeper look at beverage categories and brands seen at the NACS show and what’s on tap for the C-store channel in 2016.