- Moving fresh fruit and other better-for-you options to the checkout area and calling attention to their healthy attributes can increase sales of these items at convenience stores, researchers conducting a three-month "healthy checkout pilot" test at Utah State University found.
- Another study found sales of healthier snack items increased 34% when co-merchandized with traditional snack offerings. Both studies were developed by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).
- “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.” said Carolyn Schnare director of strategic initiatives with NACS. “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.”
Manufacturers have gone back to the drawing board over the past several years to reformulate popular snacks and redesign packaging to reflect growing demand for cleaner, healthier offerings. But retailers need to complete the equation by effectively merchandising these products.
As shoppers focus more on value-added fresh foods and snack makers roll out innovative, healthy selections that trade on claims like "whole grains" and "gluten free", grocers want to make sure they're positioning and promoting these items for maximum impact.
The healthy checkout study, which launched early last year, placed products like Kind bars, sugar-free gum and whole fruits and vegetables in special front-end displays at convenience stores on the Utah State University Campus. Researchers, who also provided in-store signage to promote the items, found that sales of all items increased as a result of the effort. Their conclusion: The displays made it easier for shoppers to find and buy the healthier items they wanted.
Grocers have tried offering fruits, vegetables and other better-for-you items to supplement or even replace indulgent snacks at checkout. Raley's has offered a "Family Friendly Checkout" in each of its stores that cuts back on tantrum-inducing sweet and salty treats. Few retailers have gone this far, though many have trialed a healthy checkout lane. These efforts could be a win-win for retailers looking for a health-focused marketing opportunity.
Still, the better-for-you planogram study tracked sales of four low-calorie products at several convenience stores and found that mixing these products in with indulgent favorites on endcaps and in the aisles boosted sales considerably. Sales of veggie chips increased a whopping 119% while pistachio sales went up 31%. Researchers concluded that familiar snacks and those seen as less of a compromise taste-wise could have the greatest potential for a sales lift.
Snacking remains one of the hottest categories in grocery right now. According to Nielsen data, the individual snacking category hit $33 billion last year, up $133 million from 2016. Health claims, the firm noted, drove growth: Non-GMO claims saw an 18.2% boost in sales for each of the past five years, followed by snack products that are free from artificial colors/flavors (16.2%) and no or reduced sugar claims (11.3%).
Effectively merchandising better-for-you snacks could very well burnish retailer's health image, and even boost sagging CPG sales.