Two separate case studies provide insights into how retailers can increase sales of better-for-you snacks in c-stores.
The studies, “Healthy Checkout Pilot Test” and “Better-for-You Planogram Pilot Test,” were developed by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) in conjunction the Project on Nutrition and Wellness (PNW) and the Cornell Food and Brand Lab (CFBL).
They were developed to help demonstrate to retailers some potential low-cost strategies that can help them increase sales of better-for-you items, which already are experiencing strong growth in stores. In early January, NACS announced that growth in healthy food and beverages sales led to positive overall sales at c-stores in 2017, and retailers expect the momentum to continue in 2018. More than two in three convenience retailers (69%) said that foodservice sales increased last year, and 61 percent said that sales of better-for-you items experienced sales gains.
NACS and Utah State University launched a healthy checkout pilot test at the university’s on-campus c-stores to determine whether sales of healthier items would increase when placed near the register or checkout area.
The test examined whether impulse purchasing of healthier items would increase if those items were placed next to or near the checkout area. Items selected for the test conformed to U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which are released every five years by the U.S. departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services
Through placement of items and signage, test results showed that moving better-for-you options to the checkout area, and calling attention to their healthy attributes, can increase sales of these items. The study is available for download here.
NACS and E-Z- Mart Inc. launched a pilot test at E-Z Mart stores to determine whether integrating healthier or better-for-you snacks into a traditional snacks display can nudge consumers into purchasing healthier snacks. The test was based on the principle of the “behavioral interrupt,” where something unexpected or novel is introduced at the point of decision to influence the outcome of the decision.
For the tests, better-for-you snacks were co-merchandized with traditional snack offerings. The study is available for download here.
“Both the healthy checkout and better-for-you planogram tests showed that low-cost tactics can be implemented at convenience stores to grow sales of healthier foods. And, because most of these items were packaged and had a long shelf life, the tests also showed that success with selling packaged better-for-you items could be an affordable entry point and lead to a to a more robust fresh offer,” said NACS Director of Strategic Initiatives Carolyn Schnare. “What works in some stores may not work across all stores, but the success of these tests clearly shows that convenience stores can be a destination of choice for better-for-you items.”
The new studies are from a set of six case studies that look at strategies to grow sales related to better-for-you snacks, meals and beverages. NACS will release results of the meals-related case studies on January 24 and beverage-related case studies on January 31.
NACS aims to advance the role of c-stores as positive economic, social and philanthropic contributors to the communities they serve. The U.S. c-store industry, with more than 154,000 stores nationwide selling fuel, food and merchandise, serves 160 million customers daily—half of the U.S. population—and has sales that are 10.8 percent of total U.S. retail and foodservice sales. NACS has 2,100 retailer and 1,750 supplier members from more than 50 countries.