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Warmer weather and a growing diversification of convenience offerings boosted alcohol sales in the first half of 2014. Take the beer category: Bucking negative dollar and volume sales trends in the first half of 2013, IRI data shows the category grew by 3.9% (in dollar sales) and 1.4% in unit sales. However, just two of the top-five selling brands enjoyed positive sales in the first half of 2014. That means offering just the traditional top-selling brands is no longer enough, something beverage analyst Bonnie Herzog attributes to the diversification of the beer category and of c-store consumers. “The channel’s consumers are evolving,” she said. “If you’re talking new consumers, it’s a little bit like your tobacco set. Sure, you need to offer the Marlboros and the Buds, but you need to be smart about the other offerings such as higher-margin and differentiated products.”

At midyear, the largest in-store category--cigarettes--was down 3.3% in volume while e-cigarettes were the fastest-growing at +25.4%.

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