As tobacco category manager for Circle K’s Columbus, Ind.-based Midwest division, Hieb is always looking for ways to make OTP easier for stores to embrace.
Q: Describe your OTP set.
A: In the Midwest, we cross several states with completely different tax jurisdictions and regional demands. There are no two identical sets or SKU assortments. We have been able to leverage store-level demand (sales/share/consumer insights information) to optimize our assortment to deliver the best results.
Ideally, we will allocate space on what drives business for that particular store. A mix of cigars, moist snuff and electronic/vapor categories will be allocated in most all stores, but the variety and space thereof will be specific for that one store.
Q: What are the most challenging and exciting things about managing this category?
A: The most challenging (and also exciting) piece of this category is managing the risk associated with "innovation/new" items, while supporting your existing base of customers with everyday offerings. It seems there is always something new—the next best e-vapor, the latest flavor of cigar—but at the end of the day, we have to make plans easy for our operators to execute and easy for our customers to shop.
Q: What kind of data/resources guide your management of OTP?
A: To successfully manage your category, you need to know everything possible about your business and your competitor’s business. I use a barrage of information, internal scan and external share information to make the best business decisions. We also leverage a lot of the objective information from our vendor partners, but never one individual source.
“[Matt] demonstrates an understanding of the category and how the right brands can drive incremental foot traffic, sales and margin.”