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Snacks & Candy

5 Ways C-Stores Can Capture the Cookie Market

How retailers can help cookies take a bigger bite of the dessert category

Who can resist the aroma and taste of a fresh-baked cookie? As more c-store operators discover the profit potential of a dedicated in-house bakery program, cookies are taking a bigger bite of the dessert category. chocolate cookies

According to Technomic’s 2016 Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend Report, powered by Ignite, 81% of consumers say they purchase cookies for snacks at least occasionally, with 78% saying they purchase cookies for snacks at retail locations.

Additionally, over the past year, according to Nielsen FreshFacts, cookies grabbed 22.2% of total dessert sales in grocery stores, second only to cakes. Cookies also showed strong growth, with dollar volume rising 2.3% during that period.

Cookies appeal to customers for many reasons. Aside from the taste, arguably the most compelling is their innate portability; they are small enough and hardy enough to be popped into a sandwich bag, and they’re perfect for in-car snacking or tucking into a purse or backpack for later without much fuss. They also function well as portion-controlled snacks or treats, plugging into the growing “snackification” of eating.

Here are a few ways c-store retailers can capture a bigger bite of the cookie market:

Fresh-baked is best

Many consumers naturally gravitate to the freshest items in the store, and according to the Technomic Snacking Occasion report, 69% of consumers say freshness is important or extremely important when choosing a snack. Retailers can mark their baked-goods case as freshly baked to see a potential uptick in sales.

Create a can’t-miss display

Cookies are tailor-made for impulse purchases, so don’t forget to keep them at eye level at points in the store where they will be seen: adjacent to the register, beckoning from the bakery case or on display racks near the coffee. As for all freshly baked products, an organized, clean case is paramount. Maintain smudge-free displays and replenish baked goods as necessary.

Consider beverage pairings

Cookies and beverages such as coffee, tea and cocoa are a dynamite duo. Gourmet coffee is already a traffic driver for c-stores, so it’s a no-brainer to strategically place cookies nearby and suggest the add-on purchase, or even encourage it with a slight discount for the combination. Alternatively, post a reminder at the dairy cooler or offer a value deal on a milk-and-cookies package.

Encourage purchase of multiples

Promote sales in multiples: one for now, two for later, a half-dozen to take home for a family dessert. A self-serve bakery case stocked with boxes ready to fill, or displays of prepackaged selections at the checkout counter or near the coffee station, can encourage grab-and-go sales—assuming the “fresh” message is clearly conveyed with labeling.

Offer local favorites and seasonal offerings

While traditional favorites such as chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin and peanut butter cookies have plenty of fans, it can be beneficial to liven up the cookie selection based on geography or the seasons. For instance, in Hispanic markets, varieties such as conchas pan dulce and polvorones de canale (a Mexican cinnamon cookie) can help establish a loyal following. Trending limited-time offer flavors, such as chocolate candy cane or pumpkin spice, can also drive sales. Seasonal or holiday-themed varieties will drive demand at Christmas, Halloween, Easter, Valentine’s Day and other holidays as well.

This post is sponsored by Bake ‘N Joy

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