What Retail Buyers Want: Convenience & Impulse  11/3/2017

According to Nielsen research we recently covered, while most (85 percent) of convenience store sales come from six key categories (cigarettes, packaged beverages, candy, beer, salty snacks, and other tobacco), subcategories like enhanced water, craft beers, ready-to-eat meals, electronic cigarettes, tools, housewares and sparkling wine saw mid- to high-double-digit growth in the channel last year.

Among Nielsen's recommendations for convenience retailers was to provide products and solutions to help shoppers find what they need quickly, provide plenty of healthy options, and continually evolve assortments by expanding into fast-growing categories, particularly those that are relevant but not typical of traditional convenience stores (such as the tools and housewares categories mentioned above, which can be merchandised as impulse items or handy solution-sets).

Then there are the fidget spinners. Everyone is looking to find the next hot impulse item that will fly off the shelves the same way that these spinners have. 

And speaking of impulse items, we also reported on how many of these convenience items and impulse items converge at the front end checkout, and that often the difference between them is really time and placement in the store.

At our upcoming Convenience EPPS and Impulse, Front-End & Checklane EPPS, buyers are looking for products are both convenient for shoppers and that provide impulse appeal for those consumers who want them – but just don’t know it yet -- and based on comments from more than 80 buyers and category managers who will be in attendance, here are some of the key areas of interest from suppliers:

College Students: Products aimed at serving the college market, whether on campus bookstores or convenience stores, or else retailers based nearby. These include a broad array of segments across food, health and beauty care, and general merchandise categories (including snacks, school supplies, energy drinks, and hangover remedies, of course!)

Travelers: Convenience and impulse products for travelers, including health and beauty items they may have forgotten to bring with them (or that they may have a sudden need for, such as a stomach remedy following a business dinner on the road), on-the-go food items, and general merchandise, such as cell phone accessories or audio and other consumer tech.

Health & Wellness: This should come as no surprise, given the trend toward wellness at all of our ECRM Grocery sessions over the past year. This includes healthy snacks (with a focus on protein), candy made from natural and organic ingredients, and related healthcare items.

Foodservice: Products aimed at convenience foodservice operations or else grab and go options, such as breads, deli meats, hot side dishes, breakfast sandwiches, bulk foodservice items, and roller grill items.

Ethnic: Ethnic foods across all categories, such as snacks, beverages, and foodservice, particularly those aimed at the Hispanic market

Promotional Items: Products that can be merchandised on promotional and impulse displays, such as shippers, power wings, clip strips or at the front end such as counter-unit programs. This also includes “quick-hit” seasonal programs.

Novelty: As I mentioned above, buyers are looking for the next fidget spinner – whatever that item may be!

Home Essentials: Household and housewares items including décor, small kitchen gadgets, tools, lights and batteries.

Opportunity Buys, Closeouts & Extreme Value: Buyers seek these so that they can pass the savings on to their consumers. In some cases, retailers that offer a “treasure hunt” assortment for their shoppers that is constantly refreshed to give them a reason to keep coming back to their stores. Additionally, some buyers seek overstocks, excess inventory, packaging or formulation changes to provide extreme value to their shoppers.



Sarah Davidson

SVP of Grocery

Sarah Davidson is ECRM's SVP of Grocery, and can be reached at 440-542-3033

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