The holiday season is upon us. That means Christmas lights, menorahs, lots of shopping, long lines to sit on Santa’s lap in the mall, and last but not least, holiday beverages.
With potential customers often out and about during this time period, fast-food restaurants and coffee shops have rolled out the seasonal drinks to lure in shoppers for quick refueling stops and possible in-store purchases. The holidays mean big business for these companies. Last year, for example, Dunkin’ Donuts got 27% of its U.S. revenue from the fourth quarter, when it sold red velvet lattes and salted caramel hot chocolates. Meanwhile, Starbucks said its holiday lineup in 2013 helped boost its revenue 12% in the three months through December.
That’s why Starbucks is currently offering its Chestnut Praline latte—its first new holiday beverage in five years and a drink that took three years to make—in its U.S. and Canadian stores. The company also brought back caramel brûlée coffees, and recently announced the return of its eggnog lattes amid public backlash for taking it off the holiday menu.
It’s also why you’ll see Dunkin’ Donuts offering Sugar Cookie Lattes and Snickerdoodle lattes. And why you’ll see The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf offer Winter Dream Tea lattes and Red Velvet cocoa. And why you’ll find peppermint mocha lattes at just about any Dunkin’ Donuts, Coffee Bean, or Starbucks you walk into.
The holidays are known as a season of giving. And the Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts businesses of the world are using these special beverages in the hope that you give to them.
Nevin Barich is the Food & Beverage analyst for Industry Intelligence, a Los Angeles-based market intelligence firm. It's the perfect job for him: He loves junk food, he often works besides a glass of Diet Dr. Pepper, and anytime one of the health nuts in his office gives him grief for eating a Big Mac, he gets to smile and say: "Hey, this is my job." Email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.