From Fountain to Fast—The Importance of Beverages To-Go

How Consumers Benefit from Your To-Go Beverage Options

There’s something special about a fountain beverage. Those cold, refreshing bubbles poured over ice that accompanies people’s favorite meals. From burgers and fries to pizza to Taco Tuesday, fountain beverages elevate dining experiences any time of day. As restaurants and bars re-open against the new realities of pandemic-related changes, many in hospitality might be questioning how to meet the needs of consumers from a fountain perspective. The answer lies in RTD—ready-to-drink beverages bottled and available for convenience.

Wash it All Down Without Washing Away Your Profits

As of today, we aren’t back to “normal” in terms of social distancing mandates, patron capacities, or operating hours so there is still a squeeze on restaurants and other food establishments where sales are concerned. Providing value and full service to guests while protecting your bottom line can both be managed by a robust offering of ready-to-drink beverages with curbside and to-go meal options.

The most popular beverages throughout the pandemic remain cola and flavored CSDs—carbonated soft drinks. The fastest-growing items in that category are diet or zero-calorie options. When consumers choose the meals and food items to be picked up or delivered, ultimately they’re looking for some of the same beverages they choose when shopping in C-Stores or grocery stores—based on health, functionality, or indulgence. Consider these RTD options for your on-the-go customers:

  • Water—easily the healthiest option, the fastest-growing segment in this category belongs to flavored sparkling waters like Bubly and Bubbl’r.
  • Energy—meals provide energy and sustenance, a beverage that promises the same alongside is a great choice.
  • Coffee—flavored cold coffee does well as an alternative to hot coffee in the mornings or as an indulgent lunchtime treat.
  • Tea—another great healthier option in the non-carbonated sector.
  • Juice—what many parents reach for on behalf of their children.

Promoting Beverage Sales Any Time of Day

When your customers are on the go or engaging with your establishment outside its walls through online or phone orders, it can be hard to ensure all aspects of the transaction are robust as they would be in person. Your servers and staff are trained to start any table or bar service with beverages; it’s the ultimate sign of hospitality. Altering the approach to a culture of take-out orders or pickup orders means reimagining the entire guest experience. 

Add visibility to your available beverages to your website and/or online menu. Ensure the same is enforced for drive-up or walk-up customers, with proper signage or accessible coolers for self-serve promoting what you have for options. Another tactic to ensure your customers have the right beverage options in place is to offer bundling, or a packaged meal price that includes a single beverage per individual meal, or offers a 2-liter or pack of beverages to accompany a multi-serving meal. This can be customized to certain days of the week or times of day that are traditionally slower and can work as a sales tool to drive business. 

Serving the Mature Crowd From Afar

Nothing will top being served a perfect draught beer or handmade cocktail from a customer's favorite bartender, but that’s not to say you can’t appeal to 21+ customers through offsite means. Depending on the state in which your business operates, there might be legislation that prevents you from selling beer, wine, or alcohol for off-sale consumption. Brands like Pepsi have found ways to help businesses offer additional value to customers while creating additional revenue sources through to-go beverages.

Pepsi’s Neon Zebra™ are canned non-alcoholic drink mixers that enable customers to make craft cocktails at home. Four flavors are currently available including Margarita Mix, Strawberry Daiquiri, Mojito, and Whiskey Sour. Each 7.5-ounce can is designed to mix with complimentary alcohol like rum, tequila, or whiskey and serves two. All flavors are made with real juice, free of artificial sweeteners. More innovation for bar and restaurant owners that directly appeals to consumers.

Forging Ahead

The numbers that affected the food and beverage industry over the past 12+ months have been staggering. The rebuild will take some time yet, but there’s a buoyancy and support in place like never before as customers and communities rally behind their favorite businesses. May your customers continue to show up for you as your business shows its appreciation for the ways you bring value—especially through new or revamped beverage services. 


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Published on: Jun 1, 2021

Topics: Soda Fountain

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