7-Eleven Rolls Out Iced Coffee Program

7-Eleven Inc. today introduced its version of iced coffee with a new marketing campaign that references cup sizes, cheap dates and love at first sight.

Available in French Vanilla and Mocha flavors, the new iced beverage met with such enthusiasm in pilot programs earlier this year that the company believed there would be great demand for the product.

New refrigerated beverage dispensers deliver the latest state-of-the-art technology for ice coffee enthusiasts at 4,500 U.S. 7-Eleven stores. The new iced coffee machines are located either near the Slurpee and Big Gulp self-serve cold-drink machines or on the hot-beverage bar. Unlike frozen coffee drinks, 7-Eleven customers dispense the coffee drink over ice in new clear cups.

A month-long ad campaign in June features promotional radio spots and outdoor, metro rail and bus transit advertising in select markets, online viral marketing including a new 7-Eleven iced coffee website and coupon emails, store signage and point-of-purchase displays.

Marketing Support

To encourage trial, prices for the new 7-Eleven drink will be discounted in select markets during the month of June. Two sizes are currently offered: medium (16 ounces) and large (24 ounces), with the exception of Long Island, NY, area stores, where corresponding sizes are 20 and 28 ounces.

Iced coffee is hot and getting hotter, showing year-over-year double-digit increases. Servings of iced and frozen coffee drinks have shown a 20 percent increase during the first months of 2009 over the same time period last year, according to data from the CREST report.

“If taste tests are any indication, this is one of the best beverages we’ve ever introduced,” said Jay Wilkins, 7-Eleven’s brand manager for cold beverages. “As the beverage machines rolled out across the country and the stores introduced iced coffee, it has become an instant hit. It gives coffee-lovers a great-tasting, refreshing alternative to a hot cup of Joe.”

In 2005, 7-Eleven began an iced coffee test in that market, the same place it introduced Americans to coffee in to-go cups more than 40 years ago. The Long Island version differs from the iced coffee being introduced nationally in that it is stronger and less sweet to meet local taste preferences. The CREST study reports that 30 percent of all cold coffee drinks in the U.S. are sold in the coffee-loving Northeast.

Noncarbonated Sales Hot

To quench their thirst, consumers continue to turn to non-carbonated beverages – juices, and bottled water, sports, tea and coffee drinks – in greater numbers. The 7-Eleven beverage team plans to capture some of those non-carb drinkers with this self-serve iced-coffee drink.

“Our iced coffee is value-priced to compete not only with coffeehouses and donut shops,” Wilkins said, “but also with bottled coffee drinks. 7-Eleven iced coffee provides an indulgent, yet affordable, afternoon beverage treat and a refreshing alternative to hot coffee on warm summer days.”

Wilkins said he believes iced coffee will also draw more women into 7-Eleven stores.

“Hot coffee drinkers skew male, while more females prefer iced-coffee drinks,” Wilkins said. “To ensure that we reach the broadest group of coffee drinkers, 7-Eleven needs to offer both hot and cold coffee drinks.”

Iced coffee-drinkers also tend to be younger, and 7-Eleven is looking to reach young adults between the ages of 18 and 34, typically on-the-go college students and young professionals. According to the National Coffee Association, coffee consumption among 18 to 34-year-olds has recently hit record highs.

With double-digit growth rates, the iced-coffee category accounts for between 15 and 20 percent of sales within quick-serve restaurants and coffeehouses, and consumption could reach 1 trillion cups this year, according to Nielsen AdViews Competitive Tracking.

“Because we offer such great prices on all our other self-serve beverages, our customers expect us to give them a good value on iced coffee,” Wilkins said. “We are positioned to compete on taste and value and become the most convenient hot and cold coffee destination for all consumers.”

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