ALEXANDRIA, Va. — Healthy foods and beverages increased overall profits at convenience stores in 2017, and retailers expect this momentum to continue, according to a recent survey of retailers by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS). Moreover, 69% of retailers said that foodservice sales increased last year, and 61% said that sales of better-for-you items grew as well.
Now NACS has partnered with the Project on Nutrition and Wellness (PNW) and the Cornell Food and Brand Lab (CFBL) to show how retailers can bump sales of healthy snacks in c-stores.
Its “Healthy Checkout Pilot Test” and “Better-for-You Planogram Pilot Test” highlight low-cost strategies that may help retailers increase sales of better-for-you items, which have already surged in c-stores.
These case studies look at strategies to grow sales related to “better-for-you” snacks, meals and beverages. NACS will release results of the meals-related case studies on Jan. 24 and beverage-related case studies on Jan. 31.
Here’s a look at each study …
This test—launched at Utah State University’s on-campus convenience stores—looked at the sales fluctuation of healthy items when placed near the checkout area.
All tested items abided by the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which the U.S. departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services release every half-decade. Some included whole fruit (bananas, apples, oranges), Kind bars, Kellogg Nutri-Grain bars and Rice Krispies Treats. The key criteria for each tested snack, according to the study, was that they must have:
- Less than 200 calories per item/package
- Less than 35% fat (unless the item contains 100% nuts or seeds)
- Less than 10% calories from saturated fat
- Zero grams of trans fat
- Less than 35% of calories from total sugars and a maximum of no more than 10 grams of total sugars in the product
- Less than 200 milligrams of sodium per item
The results showed that placing healthy snack items near the register, along with highlighting their better-for-you attributes, can indeed increase its sales.
Would consumers purchase more healthy sacks if they were stocked with traditional offerings? NACS tested this at four E-Z Mart stores using the principle of “behavioral interrupt”—when something unexpected or novel influences decision making.
Four snacks—Bare Fuji & Reds Apple Chips, Sensible Portions Garden Veggie Chips, SnakClub Salted Pistachios and Kellogg’s Special K Sea Salt Cracker Chips—were chosen for this test because they contain zero or reduced calories and have whole-grain ingredients, according to the study. When all four stores sales were taken into account, the overall category of the better-for-you items showed a sales increase of 34%.
“Because most of these items were packaged and had a long shelf life, the tests also showed that success with selling packaged better-for-you items could be an affordable entry point and lead to a more robust fresh offer,” said NACS Director of Strategic Initiatives Carolyn Schnare. “What works in some stores may not work across all stores, but the success of these tests clearly shows that convenience stores can be a destination of choice for better-for-you items.”