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Marketers Warm Up to Iced Coffee

Joe on the rocks - aka iced coffee - may be the summer of 2009's hottest beverage.

Perhaps no one knows that better than convenience kingpin 7-Eleven, which, for the first time, is rolling it out nationwide at 5,000 self-service beverage counters. Also catching the iced-coffee wave big time: McDonald's, Starbucks, Dunkin' Donuts and Cold Stone Creamery, which all are unleashing various iced-coffee products or promotions this summer.

Iced coffee has gotten so popular in the past year, it's passed iced tea in sales as a breakfast drink at restaurants, says NPD Group. The number of morning meals that included iced coffee has more than doubled over the past five years from 2 percent in 2004 to 4.6 percent through February, NPD reports. "It's a new version of caffeine," says NPD consumer guru Harry Balzer. "We can never get enough caffeine."

Among iced coffee's biggest fans: women and teenage girls. Teens thrive on the hit from the caffeine while many women gravitate to iced coffee's aura of being lower in calories.

Teen girls are 84 percent more likely to have iced coffee than the average American, says Balzer. And women 18 to 34 are 68 percent more likely. "This is clearly a female drink," he says.

Which is music to 7-Eleven's ears. With a customer base that skews heavily male, it's a chance to draw young females. "That's not where 7-Eleven is traditionally strong," says Jay Wilkins, cold beverage brand manager. "It's a new customer for us."

Others brewing up iced coffee:

-- McDonald's. In the midst of rolling out its McCafe coffee concept, McDonald's this summer is zeroing in on iced coffee, which has seen double-digit sales growth, says Neil Golden, chief marketing officer. Last month, McDonald's aired its first national ads for iced coffee. This summer, to promote new mocha drinks, it will give out samples of iced or hot mocha every Monday from July 13 through Aug. 3.

-- Cold Stone. In April, Cold Stone Creamery began selling iced coffee and blended coffee for the first time, in five flavors. The move caters to its target customer: women 24 to 48, says Dan Beem, president. It's a response to groups who come in for ice cream, then go to nearby cafes for iced or blended coffees. Now, he says, they can get it all at Cold Stone. He expects cold coffee drinks to soon account for 4 percent of sales.

-- Dunkin' Donuts. The company is doling out free refills on iced coffee to folks who buy a pound of coffee, says Scott Hudler, brand marketing chief.

-- Starbucks. Starbucks is selling 16-ounce iced coffee for $1.95 through June, a savings of about 45 cents in most markets.

1 Responses »

  1. McDonald's has a good iced coffee with sugar-free vanilla flavoring. The other flavors are very sweet.