Coca‑Cola is helping convenience retail customers meet consumers’ evolving needs in a post-pandemic landscape through brand and equipment innovation, digital capabilities, proprietary research and insights, sustainable packaging and more.
That’s the core message the company showcased at its Coca‑Cola Mart booth and surrounding activations at the 2023 National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) Show in its hometown of Atlanta.
Recent trends and shifting shopper habits—from snacking occasions replacing three-meals-a-day routines, to the accelerated adoption of electric vehicles (EVs), to the new normal of hybrid working arrangements—are challenging c-stores to reimagine the offerings and in-store experiences they deliver beyond the pump.
By transitioning from pit stops to retail and dining destinations, retailers must provide clean, sustainability-focused shopping environments with quality food and drink options, especially for EV drivers waiting a minimum of 30 minutes for their cars to charge. Coca‑Cola is leveraging its foodservice expertise to help convenience retailers shift from fuel-forward to food-forward to boost revenues during the fast-growing afternoon and evening dayparts.
"The convenience retail industry is at a crossroads, where those who invest in modernization will shape the future,” said Kevin LeMoyne, Head of Convenience Retail Division, North America Operating Unit. “As a total beverage company and total business partner to our customers, we are committed to providing the innovative beverages and business solutions retailers need to meet the changing preferences of today’s consumer, optimize operations and grow their business."
Coca‑Cola unveiled a few of its latest beverage innovations at the high-profile tradeshow, including Coca‑Cola Raspberry Spiced, which launches in early 2024; Sprite Chill, which features a cooling agent to amplify the brand’s signature cut-through refreshment; and Coca‑Cola® Y3000 Zero Sugar, a futuristic Coca‑Cola Creations flavor and experience co-created with human and artificial intelligence.
The company also is helping customers engage eco-conscious shoppers with sustainable packaging innovations like 100% recycled PET (rPET) plastic bottles and reusable options, as well as providing pump-adjacent recycling bins and partnering with Olyns to pilot “reverse vending machines” for in-store recycling that can be incentivized with coupons and discounts. Research shows that consumers, especially Gen Z-ers, prefer to buy from environmentally responsible brands and are even willing to pay a premium for sustainable products.
The Coca‑Cola delegation, which included President and Chief Financial Officer John Murphy and Chief Customer and Commercial Officer Elaine Bowers Coventry, also shared the company’s operational capabilities, marketing tools, leading-edge analytics and resources available to help retailers optimize their workforce amid ongoing labor shortages.
These include e-commerce services like Crew Connect, myCoke Service and myCoke mobile; the extensive Coke Authorized Service Technician Network; the Costa Coffee Smart Café autonomous matching that brews and pours barista-quality coffee at the touch of a button; digital tools to help engage guests with mobile menus, AI-powered experiences that integrate with customer websites and apps, as well as platforms like DoorDash, Uber Eats and Instacart; digital loyalty program playbooks; and trend-driven research and insights via the Coca‑Cola DINE360 platform and Coca‑Cola Retailing Research Councils (CCRRC).