General Merchandise/HBC

General Merchandise: Clear the Smoke

Smoking cessation and energy-shot innovation offer growth opportunities

CHICAGO -- Some of general merchandise’s biggest growth prospects have an unconventional flavor. Here are two upstarts and a reliable stalwart to cultivate for this diverse profit center.

1. A second shot at success.

C-store sales of energy shots have slumped over the past few years: IRI shows dollar and unit sales off nearly 6% for 2017. But an influx of natural, organic and nutritional new products with clean labels boasting non-GMO, superfruits and similar ingredients promise to redefine the category and attract new consumers in 2018.

2017 Energy-Shot Sales


Source: IRI

2. Turn quitters into winners.

The modest smoking-cessation category, which racked up just shy of $15 million in c-store sales in 2017, according to IRI, may have a big chance to expand in 2018 thanks to product innovation. Case in point: new convenience-sized packs of nicotine-replacement gum, which offer lower price points for the value-focused c-store consumer.

3. Reliable automotive.

C-store sales of automobile fluids hit $556.3 million in 2017, placing this subcategory among the 50 largest, IRI data shows. Consumers consider c-stores a viable stop for their vehicle needs, but retailers can help the set stand out. For example, Murphy USA kiosk sites feature stand-alone “automotive center” merchandisers that promote new and core products.

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