Snacks & Candy

The Sweet Success of Desserts: A Cornerstone of Convenience Store Sales

The Hershey Company

In the dynamic world of convenience stores, where every square inch counts, desserts play a pivotal role, exerting significant influence over consumer preferences and purchasing behaviors. Among the array of indulgent treats, ice cream emerges as a key driver of convenience store sales, offering a respite for shoppers on the go. Comprehensive analysis has revealed a wealth of valuable insights into consumer ice cream preferences, shedding light on the evolving landscape of frozen treats.

2023 data from Datassential reveals a striking trend in consumer ice cream preferences. Candy-infused ice cream has experienced a meteoric 200% growth rate in just one year, with notable flavors like Heath emerging as the fastest-growing option. Additionally, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup flavors reign supreme, resonating with diverse demographic segments across the United States, including Gen Z, Hispanic, Asian and Black consumers.

Recent 2024 data from Circana shows that in the last year, the growth of ice cream portfolios has been impressive despite modest overall category growth of +4%. Flavor-infused options like Reese’s and Heath have outpaced that number, with the Heath Ice Cream portfolio seeing a +7% jump in retail dollar sales and Reese’s Ice Cream portfolios growing +12%. This underscores the undeniable allure of branded inclusions within ice cream, propelling offerings to new heights.

How can c-store retailers cater to their desires within the constraints of a small store? Studies from Kantar Profiles and Mintel show that a significant portion of frozen treat enthusiasts—approximately 35%—prefer products adorned with tantalizing inclusions, like candy or nuts. Moreover, a staggering 51% of customers relish the opportunity to customize their frozen treats with personalized mix-ins or toppings, like hot fudge or additional candy. In the smaller c-store setting, retailers can capitalize on this demand by curating a selection of frozen products featuring branded inclusions or offering customizable options for customers.

To propel dessert sales, c-store retailers can leverage the power of branding. Research from Technomic Consumer Insights has shown that 59% of consumers prefer ordering desserts with name-brand ingredients, signaling a potent driver for product sales. Furthermore, insights from Technomic’s recent  Dessert Consumer Trend Report revealed that consumers are willing to pay a premium for branded products—up to $1.50 more. Harnessing the irresistible allure of branding can elevate ice cream offerings, enticing customers and bolstering sales.

Innovative offerings like hand-dipped ice cream and made-to-order shakes also offer a personalized touch, allowing customers to tailor flavors, inclusions and toppings to suit their preferences. This experience sets these products apart from traditional cartons of ice cream and novelties, enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Looking ahead, industry partners should be poised to introduce new offerings, catering specifically to the Drug and Convenience channels. This strategic focus on channel-specific innovation underscores the commitment to meeting the evolving needs of c-store consumers, ensuring a sweet future for ice cream enthusiasts everywhere.

This post is sponsored by The Hershey Company

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