Convenience Store News

JUL 2015

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WWW.CSNEWS.COM | JULY 2015 | Convenience Store News 89 tors work with manufacturers and brokers to get as much education on the category as possible, and pay attention to the details they may have overlooked in the past while focusing on other categories like fuel and cigarettes. "It's a very simple business, but let's not confuse sim- ple with easy," Wilson said. "It's simple, not easy. And if you can make the simple easy, then you can win." CSN main meals and main meal foods move into snacking occasions. Seifer advised suppliers to understand their products' proper place during the day in order to con- nect with consumers (and help retailers sell more of their product). "There's a time and a place for these products," he said. For example, sweet snacks are consumed more often toward the end of the day, but that doesn't mean suppliers should remove sugar in an attempt to reach another daypart. Instead, they should focus on when consumers seek to treat themselves and protect their brand equity. CoNveNieNCe & CANDY At the expo, Convenience Store News caught up with NCA Vice President of Industry Affairs Larry Wilson to discuss sweets and snacks in the con- venience channel specifically. "When we think about candy's role in the diet, it's important to distinguish the permissibility of candy," Wilson told CSNews. "It's not a snack or a food substitute; it's a treat." C-stores should "celebrate" candy by making it widely avail- able and merchandising it through- out the store, he recommended. By thinking about how and when customers buy it, retailers can merchandise candy in a way that reminds them of that usage occa- sion. He cited Halloween as an opportunity to focus on the occa- sion rather than a specific brand, and noted that Target and leading non-food retailers have category imagery worth emulating. "I think that the watchword for c-stores is to execute the basics exceedingly well," Wilson said. "What happens a lot of times for c-stores is that [candy] often isn't a focus category and yet it has the potential, given its scale, to really add significant sales." To maximize candy profits, Wilson recommends c-store opera- The Most Innovative New Products The day before the National Confectioners Association's 2015 Sweets & Snacks Expo opened its doors, a judging panel made of experts from top retailers and industry associations gathered to complete their mission: narrow down nearly 300 products to the top five in nine categories that would serve as finalists in the Most Innovative New Product Awards. The annual awards program serves to honor new candy and snack products that are not only high-quality, but truly inventive and likely to enhance the cat- egory at market. Judges had one hour to evalu- ate the entries in the four catego- ries assigned to them, based on a set of weighted criteria: taste (30 percent), innovation (30 percent), saleability (25 percent) and packaging (15 percent). In part two of the process, each category's top five products were chosen through a group discussion, during which judges advocated strongly for their picks. While the big names of the industry had multiple entries in the semifinal round, judges focused on the products' quality rather than brand name. Logistics such as price point were considered too, but it was flavor and creativity likely to excite con- sumers that broke any ties. All the finalists were then voted on by Sweets & Snacks Expo attendees on the first day of the show to determine the winners. The 2015 Most Innovative New Products are: • Chocolate: Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Peanuts, Albanese Confectionary Group Inc. • Non-Chocolate: Pancakes & Maple Syrup Jelly Beans, Jelly Belly Candy Co. • Seasonal: Roca Thins Dark Chocolate Peppermint Bark, Brown & Haley • Novelty/Licensed: BeanBoozled Mystery Bean Dispenser, Jelly Belly Candy Co. • Salty Snacks: Kettle Brand Thick + Bold Dill Pickle Potato Chips, Diamond Foods Inc. • Sweet Snacks: Hershey's Snack Mix, The Hershey Co. • Gourmet/Premium: SuperSeedz Maple Sugar & Sea Salt, Kathie's Kitchen LLC • Gum & Mints: Project 7 Grapefruit Melon Gourmet Gum, Project 7 Inc. • Savory Snacks: Peanut Butter Snappers, Edward Marc Brands Inc. • Best in Show: Tic Tac Minions, Ferrero USA Inc.

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