Branching Off Beverages

Follow the consumer decision tree to nurture more packaged-beverage sales.

By
Samantha Oller, Senior Editor/Special Projects Coordinator

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Bob walks into a c-store looking for an energy drink. He knows exactly what he wants, from the brand down to the package size. 
 
Joe is not as sure of what he wants, but he has a hankering for a soda and loves to try new flavors. 
 
And Susan is looking for a healthy beverage option for her 5-year-old in a flavor he likes. 
 
Do you know these folks? Would they be able to navigate your cold vault easily and quickly, or will they be forced to settle on a second choice—or, worse, write your store off as a poor destination for beverages? 
 
A decision tree can serve as a helpful map of the likely behavior of these consumers. It also can highlight opportunities for guiding the purchase to completion and making the shopping experience as convenient and smooth as possible.
 
A consumer decision tree (CDT) reveals how consumers shop a category, ranking the order and importance of elements ranging from occasion and need state to flavor and brand preferences. Each tree—typically presented as a flowchart—is as different as the subcategory and its core consumer.
 
“Understanding the way the consumer thinks about the [beverage] category will make it easier for them to shop the store,” says Ivan Alvarado, director of category management for Dr Pepper Snapple Group (DPSG), Plano, Texas. It takes the average consumer 12 to 30 seconds to make a beverage choice once in the store, according to DPSG research. 
 
“It’s a good way to manage the shelf flow and the way the aisle is set up,” says Tom Prestridge, director of trade marketing insights for Anheuser-Busch InBev, St. Louis. “Depending on how much space you’ve got, it is difficult for a shopper to look at 20 feet and decide they want A, B or C. … Sometimes I like A or B. Do I want to get one of each? It just makes it more shoppable.” 
 
To help in this endeavor, what follows are examples of CDTs and consumer insights for some of the biggest cold-vault segments to help provide a blueprint for maximizing the beverage category.   

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