Circle K Leverages Beverage Subscription To Bring In Summer Customers

Circle K

With a new program, convenience store chain Circle K is expanding the role of the beverage subscription service. We have already seen plenty of coffee subscriptions and direct-to-consumer (D2C) alcohol subscriptions. Now, Circle K’s Sip & Save beverage subscription expands the category to include subscriptions for soft drinks and slushies.

For $5.99 a month, subscribers can, once a day, pick any of the convenience store’s beverages in any size, amounting to about 20 cents per drink. Options include the chain’s Froster carbonated slushies, its hot and iced tea and coffee beverages, and its Polar Pop fountain beverages.

While the chain announced the subscription program earlier in the month, the convenience store is now pairing the subscription with its Scan to Win fuel promotion to integrate the Circle K experience into consumers’ road tripping routines, tying the announcement to National Road Trip Day, the annual holiday on the Friday before Memorial Day. Unlike other beverage subscriptions, Sip & Save is seasonal, meant only to drive late spring/early summer sales, ending July 5.

“Circle K is here for every journey and as more people hit the road this summer, we are proud to offer a new beverage subscription program and fuel promotion to help them save money and make their trip more enjoyable,” said Kevin Lewis, chief marketing officer at Circle K’s parent company, Canadian convenience store group Alimentation Couche-Tard.

While it is unlikely that Circle K would make a profit on 20 cent drinks if consumers came every day, the program incentivizes frequent visits, with drinks becoming less expensive the more often consumers take advantage of their subscription. Having made the trip to the store, customers opt to purchase their other essentials at the c-store as well, ingraining the store in consumers’ daily routines.

The service works similarly to coffee subscription services announced by major restaurant chains Burger King and Panera Bread before the pandemic, programs in which customers pay a flat monthly fee for a given amount of coffee — in Burger King’s case, a cup a day, and in Panera’s case, unlimited — to be picked up in-store. Conversely, many subscription businesses have been benefitting in the past 14 months from the stay-at-home economy, capitalizing on consumers’ desire for quality goods delivered to their doorstep. For instance, Nestlé subsidiary Blue Bottle Coffee’s D2C subscription service has doubled its customers since the start of the pandemic, turning the coffee experience into an at-home occasion.

“We think really hard about how to create value for our subscribers and think about how we can elevate and expand the experience beyond just getting a cup of coffee at home every day for caffeine,” Aditi Jain, Senior Director of Global eCommerce for Blue Bottle Coffee, told PYMNTS in an interview. “We feel that because we invest in our customers and really focusing on this unified experience, we see a huge opportunity, and we continue to see that grow.”

All subscription services, however, risk suffering from consumer subscription fatigue. To combat this, Sharath Dorbala, chief executive officer of subscription management platform Vindicia, told PYMNTS in a recent interview, “You really want to go beyond a financial relationship and make it a lifestyle, a companion relationship.”

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