The ins and outs of introducing new snacks into micro markets.
By STAFF at VendingMarketWatch.com
Snacking has been steadily growing over the past several years. According to new Technomic research 83 percent of consumers in 2016 snack on a daily basis, which is 7 percent higher than previous years. This is great news for micro market operators because one of the best things about micro markets is the variety of snacking options available for operators to offer consumers. Unlike vending, micro markets have few, if any snack restrictions, and can be home to products of different sizes, multiple flavors, various dayparts and top-selling brands.
One big mistake micro market operators make is not introducing new snacks frequently enough, making a market feel stale. Without new, trendy and seasonal products, consumers just won’t come to shop. Here are the top 5 tricks of the trade micro market operators use to successfully introduce new options.
#1: Listen to the client
Micro market operators have the option of offering a much larger number of stock-keeping units (SKUs) compared to vending. But of the thousands or so new products introduced each year, how does a company decide which products to offer?
First and foremost new products need to meet a consumer demand. Operators should speak with clients about their specific requests and/or general desires. For example, many locations want to go healthy, asking for no salt or low sodium snacks, gluten free chips, high protein energy bars and other very specific products. Other locations might just ask for granola bars, without the specifics of what they define as healthy. Find out what criteria will meet the need and seek out products from there.
Second, operators should consider hosting an open house and/or tasting event at the micro market. This not only creates excitement and brings people into the micro market, it allows for immediate feedback on the new products. Consumers love having their opinion matter, so try asking them to vote on the new micro market items they like best. Work those items in during the next round of new product introductions. Ever-changing consumer snacking trends mean operators should, on a consistent basis, discuss new product introductions with clients.
#2: Introduce new items in a timely manner
Once you know generally the type of items a location wants, the next question becomes, how often should you introduce new products? There is no magic number or timeframe used by every operator. Some operators attempt to receive at least two new items per week across all categories. This requires reviewing the distributor’s ordering guide continuously and strict warehouse management of all the new SKUs.
Other operators introduce one to two items per month, keeping the micro market fresh and new without there being a continuous turnover of new products. Review rebate offers and manufacturer promotions for ideas, but also make sure the items meet location requests or demographic preferences.
Designate a certain number of SKUs as NEW, and use those to track your rotation of new items or assign the management of new SKUs to a specific warehouse supervisor to ensure you can regularly and efficiently refresh the micro market product line.
#3: Promote the NEW product
There are several ways to emphasize new products in micro markets; in a cooler or on a shelf operators can hang a brightly colored tag reading “new” or use a static cling. Using a tag or cling means the product can reside with other ‘like’ items while remaining distinguishable and drawing the consumer’s eye. New products can also be placed in a space on their own near the entrance of the micro market, letting consumers know immediately that the market has been ‘refreshed’ with new items.
Another way of promoting new products is utilizing digital advertising and displaying new items on monitors and kiosks. Since all consumers need to use the kiosk to pay, an operator can be sure the new product marketing message is being seen by market users.
Some micro market systems also allow operators to send customers direct email, which is a great way to market new products. However, don’t inundate a person’s inbox or they will block you. Also, it’s a good idea to offer promotions around new products in emails and other marketing messages, such as bundling for a discount or a buy-one, get-one offer. This has been shown to raise awareness and sales of new products.
#4: Revisit past products
Just because a product didn’t sell well once, doesn’t mean it won’t sell well in the future. Reviving products back into a micro market can have a positive effect on sales. If a location begins requesting an item that was previously tried, operators should consider reintroducing the product. Management and clientele changes or the evolution of snacking trends can mean a product that did not meet consumer needs a few months ago could generate incremental sales today.
Also, look at different varieties and sizes of products that are being requested again. Perhaps the item suffered due to a lower perceived value. Talk to the location, ask for specifics about the product; brand, flavor, package size, etc. You could uncover that a larger (or smaller) bag would be more welcome, or opting for a more trendy superfood ingredient makes a difference.
#5: Review the numbers
Data is king when it comes to introducing new products. In fact, data lets operators know which new products are moving and those that need to be replaced or moved. Because of the massive amount of products and ever changing consumer snacking trends, it’s important to do at least weekly inventory management of products, regardless of how many new product introductions an operator makes. By reviewing the data, operators can make room for new products as well as removing, re-pricing or repositioning items that aren’t selling.
Repositioning items can be especially helpful for increasing the sale of new items. Try adding a display at the kiosk to increase impulse purchases of the new item, or draw attention to it. Or try reorganizing the snack display, giving the new items more prominence. Benchmark the sales data before and after the change, to ensure sales are increasing, as well as not adversely affecting sales of other items.
New snack offerings in micro markets can revitalize market sales and bring excitement; operators should be sure to place the same amount of attention on new product introduction and selection as they did to the micro market when it first opened.