US studies highlight ways to lift sales of healthier snacks

Two separate case studies in the US offer insights into how retailers can increase sales of better-for-you snacks in convenience stores.

The studies were developed by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) in conjunction with the Project on Nutrition and Wellness and the Cornell Food and Brand Lab.

Sales of ‘better-for-you’ items are already growing strongly in US stores and the studies help demonstrate to retailers some potential low-cost strategies that can help them increase such sales.

Growth in ‘healthy’ food and beverage sales led to positive overall sales at convenience stores in 2017, according to the NACS, and retailers expect the momentum to continue in 2018. Nearly 70 per cent of surveyed US convenience retailers said foodservice sales increased last year and 61 per cent said better-for-you items attracted sales gains.

NACS and Utah State University launched a ‘healthy checkout’ pilot test at the university’s on-campus convenience stores to determine whether sales of healthier items would increase when placed near the register or checkout area. Test results showed that moving better-for-you options to the checkout area, and calling attention to their healthy attributes, could increase sales of these items.

NACS and the E-Z Mart group launched a pilot test at E-Z Mart stores to determine whether integrating healthier or better-for-you snacks into a traditional snacks display could nudge consumers into purchasing healthier snacks.

The test was based on the principle of the “behavioural interrupt”, where something unexpected or novel is introduced at the point of decision to influence the outcome of the shopper’s decision.

For the tests, ‘better-for-you’ snacks were co-merchandised with traditional snack offerings.

NACS Director of Strategic Initiatives Carolyn Schnare says both the healthy-checkout and better-for-you planogram tests show 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,” she said.

“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.”

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