Friday, September 5, 2014

Fast and Hot: Marketing Drive-Through Coffee

It's not your imagination: There really are more drive-through coffee places these days.

Not everyone has the time or the lifestyle for the full cafe experience. Just as drive-through purchasing is essential for the fast-food industry, it's increasingly a key element in the world of coffee. Taste is very important, but so is convenience and the ability to get a good cup o'joe when you're in too much of a hurry to unsnap your seat belt.

Seattle's Best has been implementing drive-through-only coffee locations since 2012. Independents are also marketing drive-through coffee, with various points of differentiation, ranging from bikini-clad baristas to stand-alone kiosks featuring--of all things--a goat. (That's Crazy Mocha in the photo above, opening its newest drive-through in the Pittsburgh area.) 

Starbucks has noticed the preference for speed and convenience, and many of its stores already have drive-through lanes. Now the chain is about to open smaller, limited-menu Starbucks Express stores, catering to commuters and anyone else who wants a latte or espresso hot and in a hurry.

Panera Bread is also adding drive-throughs for coffee and more, which should allow it to attract customers at all hours, not just the main meal periods. 

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