As snacking continues to evolve, convenience stores need to remain flexible to accommodate new and higher demands. Snacks used to be an occasional, quick (and generally unhealthy) bite, but today, younger audiences are looking for not only more snack options, but much healthier ones as well.
According to market research company IRI, consumers are snacking more than ever. While the average consumer snacks 2.7 times per day, almost half of consumers are scarfing down three or more in a day.
This exponential growth in snacking means that c-stores, traditionally a one-stop shop for these quick bites, are now having to straddle both sides: offering the traditional snacks they’re known for but also appealing to the customers seeking better-for-you snacks.
By doing so, retailers can offer options that appeal to a variety of consumers and boost snack sales at the same time.
Research from Technomic shows that 58% of consumers overall—and 64% of women—are seeking healthier items from their local convenience stores. And younger customers “simply expect it,” says Technomic associate principal Donna Hood Crecca. What’s more, 64% of consumers would buy more products from c-stores that offered healthy snack choices.
So what’s the bad news in this new balancing act? Research from Brandware shows that although shoppers want to see healthier snacks on c-store shelves, 65% of consumers think c-stores’ selection of healthy food choices is inadequate.
The consumers particularly seeking these better-for-you products are the younger ones: Brandware’s research reveals that a massive 79% of millennials (ages 25 to 34) wish c-stores carried healthier snacks.
For c-stores, it’s clear that stocking a variety of better-for-you snacks is a winning strategy. But is it enough? According to Brandware’s research, effectively merchandising these products can help boost the sales of healthier snacks even more.
Lil’ Drug Store Products developed the Better Selections Snack Market to help retailers create a healthy snack section with plenty of choices. This strategy is likely to draw customers to purchase more healthy snacks and help c-store maximize sales in this growing category.
Bringing healthy snacks to the forefront made a big difference for Stop and Go. Healthy bars are the big winners, and that section has jumped from 2 square feet to 20. “People are buying these instead of lunch,” says Kizer Couch, one of the store’s owners, “and we’re especially seeing sales in the morning and at lunch.”
Bars are also driving sales at eight-store Eden Prairie, Minn.-based chain Bobby & Steve’s Auto World, as are meat snacks. These items sell especially well at the beginning of the week, says director of c-store operations Madalena Ferreira Morgan, so retailers seeking to sell more should make them especially prominent during that time because willpower falters as the week goes on.
What’s more, better-for-you items such as meat snacks, which capitalize on the consumer desire for protein, or dried fruit are growing across all channels, showing that consumers are indeed seeking out these snacks nationally. However, some of these snacks are underdeveloped in c-stores and represent an area of opportunity. Sales of dried fruit in c-stores, for example, are only 10% of national dried-fruit sales, according to all-channel data from Nielsen. Retailers who adjust their product mix to reflect these and other underindexed items can reap the benefits of the healthy trend.
Lil’ Drug reveals that along with protein, having a healthy snack section that provides plenty of variety with unique and innovative items is likely to draw customers to these products and help c-stores maximize sales in this growing category.
This post is sponsored by Associated Distributors