“I’ll just have water.” Servers and operators have gotten used to this refrain time and again, but what if your beverage menu was so enticing it got customers to change their tune?

Operators have long considered alcohol to be the wellspring of high-margin restaurant sales, however significant opportunity exists in the non-alcoholic category. What’s more is that while soda consumption has been steadily declining, interest in better-for-you beverages is driving 40% growth in the beverage industry.1

Here are the three key attributes of a successful, sales-driven beverage program, according to some of the latest research:

  1. Add Functional Benefits

Consumers today are looking for a health halo along with their refreshment, such as beauty-boosting collagen to cancer-fighting antioxidants. Ingredients that used to be considered niche (like whey protein in a body-building drink mix) are entering the mainstream with consumers adding them to their everyday drinks and weekly purchases. Not sure where to start? A hibiscus ginger kombucha, turmeric iced tea or a vanilla collagen latte are great examples of beverages that offer functional benefits without sacrificing full flavor. Be sure to leverage in-store signage and social media to drive excitement about your new beverages with benefits.

  1. Consider Cold Coffee

Our collective coffee addiction isn’t going anywhere. In fact, the cold coffee category is projected to increase by nearly 80% by 2021, encompassing traditional iced coffee as well as frozen, nitro and cold brew formats.2 Clearly a popular choice, cold brew is expected to grow 19 times faster than the entire beverage category through 2021.However, while cold brew is becoming a standard offering on beverage menus, there are plenty of other ways to generate a buzz – and sales. From frappes and iced cappuccinos to café mocha smoothies, you can easily leverage the cold coffee craze by creating fun signature drinks that appeal to every customer’s craving.

  1. Tell a Story

The power of your beverage menu isn’t just about the ingredients, taste or benefits; it’s also about the story. Did you know that 86% percent of millennials are willing to pay more for a cup of sustainably produced coffee and 46% think more positively about a venue that offers sustainable coffee?3 Today’s young consumers are thinking beyond the beverage you’re serving; they want to know where it comes from, what’s in it and how it’s made. Show your customers you care about the same things they do by sharing more about the ingredients, practices and passion, behind every cup.

Whether you’re focused on functional beverages or want to rethink your communication to customers, there are many ways to freshen up your beverage menu and offerings. It’s time to deliver a better beverage experience, and doing so will drive satisfaction and sales along with it.

For in-depth insights on how to create a successful beverage menu at your operation, download the How to Deliver a Better Beverage Experience white paper here.

1. Four Key Beverage Industry Trends for 2017 are Changing What Consumers Buy, PR Newswire, Jan. 2, 2017,

2. Technomic, S&D Coffee & Tea AFH Beverage Study and Operator Survey, 2017

3. Datassential, proprietary study for S&D Coffee and Tea