The increase in all-day snacking occasions at c-stores emerged before the pandemic and has continued to be an important trend for retailers. On-the-move consumers are transitioning from only eating three main meals to snacking more frequently throughout the day. As gas prices have declined since the summer peak, in-store c-store trips are increasing. Additionally, following Labor Day, more companies welcomed employees back to the office prompting morning and afternoon trips to c-stores to return to pre-pandemic levels. Consumer behaviors continuously evolve. To leverage these trends, retailers can lean into items that peak during certain times of the day and deploy merchandising to enhance the snacker’s experience and drive purchases.
C-store merchandising allows retailers to take advantage of all dayparts and occasions. In the morning, bakery items and nutrition bars positioned next to coffee provide a one-zone stop for consumers looking for their breakfast fix. As the morning wears on, however, research shows consumers crave more indulgence. While filling up with a second cup of coffee, snack cakes and bars should be within easy reach. For Hershey, Reese’s Snack Cakes were a key growth contributor to the prepackaged pastry/bakery category during the pandemic, and KIT KAT® continues to perform well when positioned near coffee machines.
During the lunch hour, foodservice that offers items like pizza, chicken and sandwiches positioned near beverages and salty and sweet snacks give c-store shoppers the chance to grab a full meal and build bigger baskets for retailers.
In the late afternoon hours, consumers are looking to satiate their hunger between meals while also enjoying a moment of indulgence. Shoppers tend to grab snacks that are salty, sweet or a combination of both. Hershey’s recently announced Reese’s Big Cup stuffed with Reese’s Puffs is the perfect addition to the late afternoon line-up and follows the success of other Reese’s snacks with inclusions that are popular in this timeframe. On the salty side, ready-to-eat options like SkinnyPop Popcorn are the go-to choice for snackers looking to fuel up during the afternoon snacking occasion.
Beyond dayparts, c-stores have an opportunity to capitalize on a growing trend of occasion-based merchandising. The Hershey Retail Survey of Mass Convenience Respondents found that 65% of retailers plan to deploy more displays that feature items for S’more or movie nights over the next six to 12 months than they did in the previous year to appeal to shoppers focused on quality family time and activities. This type of merchandising encourages shoppers to stock up on key items for shared snacking experiences without giving up the expectation of efficiency that convenience stores provide.
Satisfying new occasions require retailers to choose between offering more brands and options or relying on power brands to offer innovative snacking options that meet a variety of needs. Additionally, merchandising these brands based on how consumers shop and ensuring the best items are in the “strike zone” at the right time will work to drive conversion throughout all dayparts and occasions and enhance the consumer experience, which can ultimately build loyalty to both brand and business.
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This post is sponsored by The Hershey Company