Why McLane Is 2016’s Hot Beverages Category Captain


TEMPLE, Texas — Collaboration and customization drive coffee category growth for retailers, which is why McLane Kitchen partners with JCX Coffee to provide a turnkey program that enables operators to offer hand-roasted specialty coffee in a strategic merchandising setting custom-fit to each environment.

JCX Coffee was built on the belief that everyone deserves a great cup of coffee no matter where they choose to buy it. The coffees are sourced worldwide and many are sustainably certified: Rainforest Alliance, Fair Trade, USDA Organic and Direct Trade.

For its efforts, McLane Co. Inc. was selected winner of the 2016 Convenience Store News Category Captains award in the hot beverages category.

Now in its third year, the awards program applauds outstanding category management initiatives implemented in the convenience channel over the past 12 months. All entries were judged by product development experts at consumer research firm Past Times Marketing based on the information supplied by participating companies.

Not only does the JCX Coffee program offer a variety of specialty coffee and coffee products, but it is designed with a solution for every detail of a coffee program, McLane noted.

Along with its coffee supplier Java City, McLane starts by evaluating an operator’s existing coffee offer to understand the execution and performance of a retailer’s current program as well as the estimated potential of the operator’s future coffee program.

Once the evaluation is complete, the category management team provides product and merchandising recommendations to the operator. Once agreed upon, the goal in the transition is to make the changes as seamless as possible, installing state-of-the-art equipment, compelling graphics, point-of-purchase (POP) and bringing the right products at the right price to jumpstart the new and profitable program. JCX Coffee branding includes coffee, condiments, cups and paper products from McLane.

The program allows for customization within the product line to create a targeted offering. This level of customization allows the operator to regionalize their offering to create a stronger product appeal to their target demographic. For example, JCX Coffee offers a sweet, cinnamon-flavored coffee that is typically labeled “Cinnamon Toast,” but for regions with a heavy Hispanic population, it can be offered as “Café de Olla.” Customized marketing allows the operator to speak directly to its target demographic, resulting in higher sales.

JCX Coffee continues to keep its program fresh and on trend. At the end of 2015, it officially launched a new look and feel designed to detail the hand-roasted specialty coffee offering. In addition, a full line of sustainably certified coffee was added to the program. Sustainable coffee offerings are easily identified with their corresponding certification. According to McLane, research continues to show the growing importance of health and sustainability when consumers decide what brands to buy. The redesign and extended product offering is a direct response to this.

The program also offers traditional branded POP, including pumptoppers, window clings and frequent-purchase punch cards. McLane Kitchen distribution trucks feature enticing imagery of JCX Coffee that can be seen on all the major U.S. highways.

By utilizing the JCX Coffee program supplied by McLane Kitchen, hundreds of locations have implemented a turnkey program that’s resulted in more than 20 pounds of coffee sold per location per week. Compared to direct-service-delivery coffee programs, operators are selling more while garnering efficiencies associated with fewer invoices and deliveries, McLane said. 

Operators reap more profits with the JCX Coffee program because there are no royalty fees and the specialty offering allows for a higher retail price. Operators of the JCX Coffee program typically see a 55-percent gross margin per cup on hot beverages.

For more on the winners and their category management initiatives, look in the Convenience Store News Guide to Category Management, published this month.

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