Industry Trends
Enticing consumers to order more beverages

graphBeverages have shown waning popularity in restaurants over the past several years. An improving economy was expected be a key impetus for increased beverage orders at restaurants. Unfortunately, the reality is that consumers’ thirst for revenue-generating beverages continues to decline.

There seems to be a growing trend for more beverage variety when viewing the types of beverages that are resonating most strongly with consumers. Along with the growing beverages that have found favor with consumers, there has been a sizeable lift in consumers opting to order only tap water. The tap water choice may reflect consumers substituting (free) water instead of paying for a beverage, or perhaps they consider water a healthier alternative to other beverages on the menu.
It’s key to understand what types of beverages consumers seek and what operators can do to increase orders of this very important profit contributor. Achieving this goal will depend, in part, on the industry’s ability to satisfy consumer needs and develop and introduce unique, innovative beverage options. Additionally, as healthy food trends continue to grow, so will the desire for healthier alternatives in the beverage category.
Here are a few thoughts on what consumers might find appealing:
  • Signature beverages — Try offering one that is particularly unique to a specific restaurant.
  • Customized beverage orders — Offering new and different toppings, spices, syrups, and flavorings for beverages adds to the entertainment experience.
  • LTOs — These offers generate interest in beverage offerings, and LTOs based on seasonal ingredients have special appeal.
  • Larger serving sizes — Emphasize the fact that a larger-sized cold beverage is the best deal for the money, especially if you are not offering free refills. This also has a positive impact on increasing average check.
  • Smaller portions are in vogue — In some cases, small is the new big. For example, for a cold beverage like a milkshake, offer a mini portion to keep the calorie count down for those who are watching their weight, but want to indulge. This also creates a sense of value with a price that matches the portion size. Some is better than none.
  • Fresh-fruit smoothies and premium juice offerings — Consumers’ interest in these options is increasing as we see them seek healthy snack options. 
The NPD Group is the industry’s leading source for foodservice trends and restaurant market research data. NPD’s CREST® service, which continually tracks consumers’ use of commercial and non-commercial foodservice, assists foodservice manufacturers, foodservice operators, and other foodservice organizations with strategic planning and positioning, product/menu development, and consumer targeting. For more information visit our website at