The convenience store industry faced a number of challenges in 2018, with slow in-store sales growth, a decline in in-store foodservice sales, and a decline in new customer traffic only offset by short-term increases in fuel costs. During the Convenience Distribution Marketplace expo held by the Convenience Distribution Associations in February of 2019, industry leaders shared products and strategies they feel will help the industry address three notable trends that could become major drivers in the months to come: spicy, bold-flavored food options; new variations of existing brands; and healthier food options. Continue reading to learn how convenience stores can better respond to changes in consumer preference.

How to Handle Consumer Preference & Changes in the C Store Industry

Let’s dig deeper into each of these trends to see how vendors are putting new items on the market to take advantage of consumer preference and demands, and then wrapping up with how your operation can tap into vendor offerings most effectively by allowing retail analytics delivered by convenience store management software to drive inventory management practices.

Spicing Things Up

Consumers are looking for interesting or unique flavor profiles across various products. Chip and cracker makers are providing savory options that capitalize on the trend. The Kellogg Company, for example, has launched several new savory options for its Cheez-It brand crackers while Pringles brand chips have launched Jalapeno chips. Mars Chocolate plans to get in on the action as well with limited-edition flavors such as Mexican Jalapeno Peanut, Thai Coconut Peanut, and English Toffee Peanut, each being tested with consumers to possibly be added as a permanent part of the lineup. A number of other brands are incorporating regional and international flavor profiles into their products in order to tap into consumers seeking to broaden their options.

A New Spin on Old Favorites

Nothing grabs the attention of loyal customers like enhancing their favorite snack. For example, Old Trapper, a company already capitalizing on the consumer demand for high protein snacks, is set to debut a higher quality beef steak jerky option that uses different preparation and marinade techniques to give their jerky a facelift. Clif Bar & Co. similarly started offering bagged snack clusters to draw in consumers uninterested in their protein bars. Kellogg Company is also getting in on the action with a line of new Rice Krispies Treats Poppers, smaller versions of the original topped with various flavors of frosting.

The Healthier the Better

Perhaps the strongest driver of sales across multiple retail industry segments is consumer demand for healthy food and consumables that are quick and easily accessible that fit into increasingly busy lifestyles. Kellogg Company is offering a Joyböl Smoothie product that allows on-the-go breakfast customers to grab a dry product that can easily be prepared into a smoothie later in the day. General Mills has taken their Gardetto’s brand of snacks and created a lighter Crisps version, while Campbell Soup Company has converted a number of flavors from the healthy Well Yes! line of soups into highly mobile sipping packaging.

Leverage Retail Analytics for Success

As a convenience store operator, you might already carry all of the above products and more, in hopes of capturing more business by giving consumers with the products that match up to industry trends. But how do you identify opportunities to expand on a line of products, or which products are actually trending? How do you determine a successful promotions management program or loyalty program without data to inform you as to what items should be discounted or which items each loyalty member should be pointed toward based on previous behaviors? How do you know how well your prepared food program is doing, or if you’re wasting more than you’re selling?

Success Systems can provide all of these answers and more. Partnering with us gives you access to industry-leading convenience store software management tools that help track vital retail analytics and automate the inventory management process. Partner with Success Systems and leverage the right tools for the job at hand, and you’ll be able to use those retail analytics in order to keep up with the thriving convenience store down the road.