Sweet treats and nostalgic favorites can make your store a snacking destination
The average American now eats more snacks than meals on a given day, according to the new State of Snacking report by Mondelez. Millennials and Gen Z consumers have a different perspective on eating and believe that five snacks or mini-meals are more conducive to their lifestyle. This younger generation is also the core convenience store consumer.
Convenience and retail stores are a top snacking destination for consumers. With the continued rise of the snacking generation and the improved reputation of convenience store fresh food offerings, stores have an opportunity to extend their foodservice program with more fresh snacking items.
Snack food eating occasions driven by a need for favorites, cravings or the need to reward oneself — which typically involve the more indulgent snack foods — will continue to grow over the next five years.
– David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor and author of Eating Patterns in America
While there has been much news regarding the shift towards healthier or functional snacks, that does not mean indulgence is dead. Consumers view indulgent snacking as a reward or even a mood enhancer. It is a golden opportunity for stores to make consumers happy by providing the fun, sweet, or nostalgic treats they are craving as a gift to themselves.
Snacking is an all-day activity, but indulgent snacking opportunities are more common during the afternoon and late-night dayparts. A fresh snack program is a great way to entice those PM fuel fill-up customers and drive more inside sales during the evening commuter times and later.
Permissible snack indulgence for most consumers tends to be later in the day, either as a dinner or late evening snack.
NPD Group’s Future of Snacking
Fresh, indulgent options and desserts are top attractions for younger consumers when eating away-from-home. Soft serve ice cream and store-baked cookie programs are two ways convenience stores can add fresh indulgence and delight this consumer base. A soft serve program with toppings bar leverages the self-serve, customized creations opportunity that consumers love from c-store coffee programs, and that has been so successful with the rise of froyo QSR chains.
Beyond a sweet, fresh, snacking favorite, the aroma from a store-baked cookie program creates a warm and inviting food-forward atmosphere to your store. Fresh-baked cookies also capitalize on the nostalgic benefits consumers love from indulgent desserts, like memories of holiday baking, friends, and family.
Another nostalgic staple is a jumbo hot pretzel or mini pretzel bites. This warm, salty snacking solution is an excellent complement to the sweet indulgence options.
Get Creative, Go Beyond
Not only are soft serve ice cream bars and store-made cookie programs indulgent traffic-driving options to themselves, but they can provide a foundation for even higher-end, personalized indulgence opportunities for your snacking consumers.
Just think of some of the great options that can come from having both a store-made cookie program and self-serve ice cream bar, in addition to existing foodservice program staples:
- Ice cream sandwich cookies
- Root Beer floats
- Ice cream coffee drinks
Grocery stores and other retail outlets all do a great job with packaged snacks and sweets. A well-executed fresh & indulgent snack program can help your store differentiate from other retailers and drive more PM traffic with your core Millennial and Gen Z consumers. By leveraging the convenience of your offerings, with additional opportunities for consumers to create personalized treats, you can increase the frequency of visits, inside sales, and positive association with your stores. After all, consumers that eat dessert are happier customers!
MORE SNACKS TO CONSIDER
Catherine Porter is a marketing consultant specializing in the food industry and a previous speaker at NACS. Known for her comprehensive understanding of foodservice trends, consumer insights, and industry dynamics with the ability and vision to synthesize the information into new products, strategies, and solutions for operators and manufacturers. You can find Catherine on Twitter at @cpmktservices or on LinkedIn.