Feb 5, 2016 6:04:34 AM by Bess Couture
In today’s information age, it’s easy to become bogged down by an overload of trends and statistics, but as a cstore operator, if there is one thing you cannot afford to miss, it’s the cstore snack trend. If you’re feeling like you didn’t even know this was a trend, don’t worry, you’re in the majority! While we’ve covered millennial snacking before, we’ve never looked directly at cstore snacking and the influencing factors in driving those snack sales. So grab your snickers, bag of chips or plate of French fries, today we’re talking cstore snack trends.
What trend?... Since When?
Maybe you haven’t noticed a huge upswing in snack purchases over the last few years, but when Convenience Store News, Convenience Store Decisions and CSP all start reporting on the hottest movement being the cstore snack trend, it’s probably time to start paying attention. Snacks at cstores have always been available to the consumer, so why is it only recently becoming a profitable trend? A number of factors have influenced the snacking growth. For starters, people are on the go. All the time. Which means they may not have time for full meals and snacking can fill in those gaps. Grazing, or eating multiple smaller meals instead of the three large traditional meals is also a lot more common both with millennials and health conscious folks alike. And finally, consumers are looking for convenience, so preparing or sitting down for full meals just isn’t as appealing as it used to be. In an effort to meet your customer’s needs, now is the time to really focus on the cstore snack trend.
Increasing Sales with the CStore Snack Trend
No point to paying attention to trends if you aren’t going to capitalize on them, so let’s dive right into the ways you can increase sales with the cstore snack trend. There are some general principals you can apply to all your food sales, that are especially great for maximizing sales of snacks. For starters, as a cstore, people do not neccesarily equate you with GOOD food options. That means you have to work twice as hard to appeal to consumers, and we suggest following the FORCE method of offering a fresh, organized, range of foods in a clean, efficient environment.
Fresh – When you read about consumers wanting healthy choices, it no longer means they want something low in fat or calories. Healthy increasingly means fresh, less processed food. Consumers are already demanding food they can feel good eating, and cstores are no exception. To offer fresh food to your customers, you’ll have to be even more diligent about inventory and ordering. This means waste management is a MUST (see our blog for more on waste) as fresh food can’t sit on the shelf forever.
If you’re interested in getting into fresh prepared foods now is the time to really examine your equipment? Can you cook fresh? If not, what will you need to invest in to start offering it. Fresh food sale profits should offset the cost of investment in new equipment, but you should certainly do all your research before making any purchase. See more on adding foodservice to your cstore here.
Organized – If people can’t find the food, how are they going to buy it? A well-organized store is a major component of taking advantage of the cstore snack trend. Convenience Store Decisions recommends displaying food 2-3 feet inside the front entrance to entice people as soon as they walk through your doors. Bright and colorful display signage can also help to draw attention to your offerings. Be sure to reinforce your fresh food messaging in all your signage!
If you can’t place food near your doors, near the beverage cooler is the next best palce. You can try and capture additional sales from those picking up just a drink on their way to their next event. If what you have to offer is appealing and merchandised well, you have a good chance of capturing people who didn’t even know they were hungry.
Range – Variety is the spice of life, or so they say! Offering a wide range of snacking options is highly beneficial to capturing all different consumer types who walk through your doors. You want to offer both salty and sweet, low calorie and high fat, and items that appeal to all ages.
You’ll also want a wide range of items that are both prepackaged and ready to go as well as some items that can be prepared while the customer waits. This will satisfy both the immediate snacker and the person looking for a snack for later.
Clean – We mentioned earlier that cstores get a bad rap when it comes to food, so you have to go beyond expectations to make consumers confident in purchasing food from your store. Cleanliness is one of the most important factors in someone deciding to buy food or not. If you’ve got nasty looking roller grills, or your coffee station is covered in a sticky syrup mess, you’ll never get the sales your looking for.
Take extra time to clean and maintain your food portion of your shop. Set up daily schedules for maintenance to make sure there are no areas of your business to potentially detract a customer from buying a snack from you.
Efficient – As a convenience store, being convenient is a MUST. If you want to nail the cstore snack trends, you have got to be efficient at meeting customer’s needs. This may mean high speed cooking or fast paced check out service to keep up with demand.
Efficiency should also be applied to your layout. Once again, where and how you place and promote your snacks needs to be carefully thought out. If you sell yogurt, make things convenient for your customers and place individually wrapped spoons by the display. If you’re selling fruit, consider creating a designated washing station for folks who want to rinse their apple before they go. Keep thinking, how can I make this more efficient for my consumer?
There you have it. The FORCE method covers the five items that can take your snack program to the next level. If the cstore snack trend is here to stay, and we tend to think it is, now is the time to really invest in your food service program and what you have to offer your customers.Share this post
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