It’s Cold Out There

Aim for balance in your cold vault.

October 04, 2019

ATLANTA—Retailers are opening the door to a new look in the cold vault category. Thanks to the exponential growth in alternative non-alcoholic beverages, craft beer and mixed alcoholic drinks, today’s cold vaults look dramatically different from those of 20 years ago.

Attendees took stock of today’s infinite choices, while looking at trends and research that can help them build their own cold vault. Kim Cuellar, Ph.D., category manager for beer and wine at OnCue Marketing LLC, led a panel of speakers who provided much of that data during the Thursday education session, “Cold Vault: Trends and Takeaways.”

“I project some pretty substantial shifts in trends but also see some trends continuing to sustain growth. For new trends, CBD is king, as there is a lot of unknown about CBD,” Cuellar said.

In an effort to help retailers design cold vault sales and space in the coming years, Cuellar enlisted the help of Sara Hillstrom of Anheuser-Busch InBev, Brett Gilliam of MillerCoors, Damian Marano of Docklight Brands, Chris Schmidt of Monster Beverage Company and Michael Yager of Coca Cola.

According to NACS 2018 data, 24% of all packaged beverages are sold in c-stores. Non-alcohol, including beer, represents 22% of all inside sales, and there are 1,400 new, non-alcohol beverages introduced each year.

Water leads the non-alcohol segment. According to Cuellar, three-fourths of Americans prefer water, and kids are choosing water over soda and juice, thanks to some “cool new packaging.” Cuellar also expects to see continued growth in plant-based milks. Retailers sell three times as many refrigerated plant-based milks than unrefrigerated ones.

In the alcohol segment, everyone is talking about seltzer.

“Seltzers are on fire,” Hillstrom said. “Will the trend stick? I strongly believe this is a trend that’s here to stay, mostly because brands are doing a good job of recruiting new drinkers and because it has a 70% repeat rate.”

Whether trend or fad, the key to designing the right cold vault, according to the panel, is to strike a balance in what you have to offer.

“A balanced approach will maximize your growth overall,” Hillstrom said.