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10 Easy ways to Sweeten Sales with Syrups


Syrups, in specialty coffee’s good ol’ days, were used mostly to “ease” people into drinking specialty coffee beverages. The idea was that a non-coffee drinker would order a vanilla latte, love it, eventually graduate to a non-flavored latte, then to a cappuccino, then to straight espresso. This is true in some cases - but with many of the higher quality flavors on the market now - people are beginning to appreciate flavored beverages as a class of their own, and retailers are seeing the increased potential for profit.

Through active marketing of one’s syrup line, today’s coffee shop owner can tap into this expanding market of specialty beverage consumers. To help you get started with syrups, here are 10 easy suggestions from some of the industry’s leading syrup manufacturers.

1) Daily, weekly and monthly specials.

Though this may be the most obvious suggestion, you would be surprised how many coffee companies do not take advantage of this simple marketing opportunity. Too busy to create daily specials? Then create weekly or even monthly beverage specials. Not feeling creative? Ask one of your baristas or even some of your customers to help come up with tasty recipes using syrups, or call your syrup manufacturer for an endless list of ideas. The greatest advantage to any drink special is that it gets people to try something new - something that already has your “seal of approval” for taste on it. You’ll be amazed at how many of your customers will look forward to ordering the next “special” once they’ve tried one they like. Or maybe they’ll come away with a new favorite beverage! Chalkboard or dry-erase menus are the perfect place for suggestive selling of your specials. For example: “Try our Creamsicle Italian soda - it’ll make you feel like a kid on a hot summer day!” or “Come in from the cold and curl up with a hot apple pie latte.”

2) Seasonal, holiday, sports or community event drink specials.

Nothing will bring more new people to your shop than a rich eggnog latte or a hot caramel apple pie latte on a cold December day. That’s why it’s important to take advantage of the season, your local weather, and holidays or popular community events. And this goes for non-coffee beverages, too, such as steamers, Italian sodas, teas, smoothies and more. Name a beverage after your local sports team. Offer a “Red, White and Blueberry” (raspberry, blueberry and a splash of white chocolate) Italian soda during your town’s Fourth of July celebration. Laura Morse, marketing manager for R. Torre & Co., manufacturer of Torani Italian syrups, offers this suggestion: “Name some drinks after local politicians during election week and let customers show their support by their order. Stage a run-off and see who “wins” at the end of the week, based on drink orders.” Gina Palandri, who does training and sales for B&W Specialty Coffee, a distributor of Stirling Gourmet Flavors, says one of her customers came up with a great promotion around Easter. The beverage, with the catchy name “Peeps,” used Stirling’s Toasted Marshmallow and Ceylon Cinnamon syrups to create a hot-selling seasonal latte. To make it even easier, Palandri says they premixed the correct portions of the necessary syrups into empty syrup bottles so they were ready to go.

3) Special menus.

Each syrup company interviewed agreed children’s menus are one of the best ways to move syrups, please current customers, and increase ticket amounts on a daily basis. Torrey Lee, owner of Café Moto in San Diego and distributor of Monin syrups suggests “The Whine List” - a menu featuring Italian sodas and steamers with fun names, bright colors and kid-pleasing flavor combinations. You may also want to provide coloring books and crayons (if you have the space) to give the kids something to do while they sip on their special beverage, giving mom or dad a much-needed moment of peace and quite with their cappuccino. Along the same line, keep diet-conscious and diabetic customers in mind by developing a “light” menu. Most syrup companies offer light or sugar-free syrups and recipes for tasty, indulgent alternatives to your regular menu. As Da Vinci’s Ging points out, statistics show that the average American attempts a diet three to four times a year. Plus, there are 18 million diabetics in the U.S. alone. For retailers, that means approximately one-third of their customers may want or need an alternative to regular syrups in their flavored beverages.

4) Displays.

“There are so many areas of the store that can be used to promote flavored syrups. One of our retail partners displays bottles of syrup in wine racks, making an elegant presentation and also encouraging customers to buy a bottle of their favorite flavor for use at home,” says Ging. Customers of Stirling Foods, Inc. and its distributors are encouraged to use themes. Back to school? Incorporate “studious” sounding beverages (such as A is for Apple latte) and decorate a small “promotional” area of your store (perhaps a shelf or a window) with some books, pencils, apples, magnetic letters, etc. Of course, be sure to include a few bottles of syrup to attract impulse buys! Holidays and seasons are some of the best building blocks for themes - use your imagination, but keep it simple. Gift baskets are another great way to display, and sell, products such as syrups, mugs, whole bean coffees and other coffee-related goodies.

5) Name-the-drink contest.

Torani’s Morse suggests providing a free shot of syrup to every customer who writes down an original name for a new featured beverage - winners get their name featured on the menu during the first week or two the beverage is debuted. For example, “Joe Smith’s Torani Cinnamint Blast.” Or, if the beverage becomes a permanent menu item, you may provide better prizes, such as 10 free shots of syrup, a mug or a free bottle of syrup to take home.

6) Barista recommendations.

My favorite video store has a large section of films recommended by staff members. Four out of five times, I’ll pick a movie from this section - not only because the staff members are true film buffs, but because they have proved themselves with past recommendations. Try the same thing with a small chalkboard or dry-erase board: “This week, Suzy says to try the Peppermint Patty Mocha.” Or “John’s favorite drink is the Rumba-Jumba latte with an extra shot of rum syrup!”

7) Punch cards.

This one’s easy - buy nine shots of syrup and your tenth is free.

8) Sampling.

Mix up a new beverage using current or new flavored syrups and hand out one-ounce samples of the final beverage to everyone that walks in the door. Perhaps offer samples of your drink of the day or of a new seasonal special. Customers of Stirling are told to sample actively and always use suggestive selling. It’s much more effective to take the cap off a bottle of peach syrup and tell your customer to “smell the fuzz” than to just have a bottle of peach syrup sitting on the counter. You may also suggest certain flavors in beverages to accompany particular pastries or food items. Customers will get much more excited about a product if they see the person serving it is excited.

9) Bundling.

People love value. They also love package deals, not to mention having certain decisions made for them. Face it - if it makes life easier, it’s probably going to sell. That’s where bundling - the idea behind the McDonald’s Extra Value Meal - comes in. The concept is simple: Take two complementary items, say, a hazelnut latte and a raspberry scone. Sell them together as a “Commuter’s Special” for 25 to 50 cents less than the customer would pay for them separately. Make sure you feature these specials, along with their price, prominently on your menu or a smaller menu board. Bundling works for retail items as well as in-store consumables. Show customers the many uses for syrups at home by selling a small book of recipes, a package of scone mix and a bottle of syrup as a “Weekend Brunch” package.

10) Upselling.

Give a small sample of a flavored Italian soda to customers who come in for bottled water or regular soda pop. Be sure to let them know about the wide variety of flavors you carry. Or, add a shot of cherry syrup to their Coca-Cola! You may also decide to give free shots of a particular flavor each day to pique customer interest in more obscure flavors.

As you can see, the possibilities are endless. The key is to show enthusiasm for your product line and your customers will follow. Still nervous about pushing your syrup sales even further? Call your syrup distributor or manufacturer for more ideas!

Kate LaPoint is owner of To The Point Business Imaging, a company specializing in public relations, marketing, writing and editing for companies in the specialty coffee industry. She can be reached at (206) 418-9958 or katel@tothepointbi.com.

Tea & Coffee - August/September 2001


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