By Joel Goldstein
As a retailer, it is up to you to find the hottest new products, and provide those products to your customers before anyone else can. Today, there are approximately 150,000 convenience stores in operation. 63 percent of those convenience stores are independently owned, while the remaining are chain store operations.
In a recent study, the average age of a c-store customer is falling, and is now below 40. However, the average customer is still male. This means that the customer that you should be catering your new products to are tech-savvy, and constantly on the go. Overall, your customers want the flexibility of purchasing different brands, while recent reports show that they still prefer name brand goods. Convenience stores on the cutting edge are stocking their coolers with healthier alternatives to soft drinks, while expanding their snacking options to include fast and healthy alternatives to salty snacks. Here are the hottest three growth categories in today’s modern c-store.
1. Healthy snack alternatives. Research has shown that the most sought-after products are healthy items that are readily available for consumption. Sales of snacks made from nutritionally dense ingredients are on the rise, such as seeds like flax, chia and hemp. Consumers are looking for permissible indulgence. Healthier alternatives to candy bars, potato chips and cookies are taking market share from the popular salty and sweet snacks.
2. Energy Drinks. According to IRI, sales of energy drinks in convenience stores topped 6.5 billion dollars in 2013. That is an increase of approximately 6% over 2012’s sales. With Red Bull continuing to dominate the category, more convenience stores are stocking their shelves with healthier beverage alternatives, catering to their new health conscious customer base.
3. Wellness Products: With the average age of customers falling, there has been a steady shift towards weight loss products, and “good-for-me” solutions in convenience stores. There are a lot of innovative health products coming onto the market that have a large margin and a small footprint.
Retail sales are all about the numbers. You must pay attention to sales trends in order to stay ahead of them, and know your best performing products. It is most important to spot what is popular among consumers, first by watching what the younger generation is buying in your store. To better appeal to those who want healthier food and drinks at their fingertips, you as an independent retailer should cater to your customers’ intentions for healthier living. Begin to diversify the products offered in your store, and test how healthier products perform at your checkout counter. You’ll be glad you did!