Sweet Revolution

All Candy Expo highlights increases in snacking occasions, purchases

Steve Holtz, Editor in Chief, CSP Daily News

CHICAGO -- A "snacking revolution" is under way in the United States, and convenience stores are well-positioned, if more challenged than ever, to capitalize on the change. C-stores, with 6.2% growth, rank behind only Wal-Mart (7.3%) and other mass merchandisers (6.5%) for having the highest sales growth for candy in 2007, according to data just released by Information Resources Inc. (IRI) and the National Confectioners Association (NCA) at the 12th annual All Candy Show in Chicago.

"There 's a snacking revolution going on before our eyes," said Jill Manchester, vice president of immediate [image-nocss] consumption for Kraft Foods, during a workshop titled "Confectionery & Snack Industry Trends."

After outlining the many reasons consumers are snacking more—from hectic schedules to diets that recommend five or six smaller meals a day rather that three big meals—Manchester noted that "75% [of consumers] rely on convenient foods more today than they did two years ago.… Meals are becoming more informal and fragmented.… When people talk about their meals today, they 're describing what people used to call snack years ago."

The challenge for c-store retailers, however, is that candy and snack foods are now available through more and more retail channels.

"Before when you thought about where to snack, you thought about convenience stores," Manchester said. “Today, everybody is going after that snack dollar.”

So what's a retailer to do? Carolyn Hendriksma, senior director of U.S. insights and advanced analytics for The Hershey Co., speaking in the same session, offered some shopper knowledge worth considering:

Shoppers shop first by segment (gum, chocolate, etc.), then by usage, then package type and finally by brand. Shoppers spend less than 60 seconds in the candy aisle. Most purchase decisions are made in the store. One-quarter of consumers walk away without making a purchase if they can't find what they want.

Steve Holtz, CSP/Winsight By Steve Holtz, Editor in Chief, CSP Daily News
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