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A well-balanced snack set


Operators can satisfy customers with a blend of familiar snack brands and new items.

Foodservice operators need to know their customers well in order to achieve the right balance of new and familiar branded snack offerings.

While some adventurous diners will be attracted to new and trend-forward snacks, many will still gravitate toward the tried-and-true snack brands and products they are most familiar with. Operators can often optimize their snack sales opportunities with a reliable assortment of well-known brands, complemented by a rotating mix of new items merchandised prominently to grab attention.

“People who are looking for familiar brands will find them,” says one multi-format operator, who notes that consumers who prefer certain snack brands will often select where to dine based on the availability of the brands they like. “You have to put the new items out where they can’t miss seeing them, or put signs up to tell them that you have those things.”

Merchandising new snack items prominently also will help drive impulse sales among all consumers, he says.

Brand preferences are often demarcated along generational divides, according to Kevin Collier, chief executive of Concepts for Profit, a foodservice consulting firm based in Glen Allen, Virginia.

“Recognize the differences in brand recognition and acceptance within demographic audiences,” he says. “Older consumers recognize traditional national brands, while younger age groups gravitate to new ‘lifestyle’ brands that convey health, social responsibility, etc.”

Operators also must keep in mind that many classic snack brands have been reformulating their products to meet these evolving tastes, which creates opportunities to drive sales among customers seeking healthier or minimally processed fare, for example.

Flavor preferences also vary across demographic lines, as many younger consumers are more open than their older counterparts to bolder, globally inspired flavors.

One quick-service sandwich chain, for example, merchandises two brands of potato chips at checkout — a nationally known brand offering traditional flavor varieties and a niche brand known for more adventurous, spicy flavors which appeals to the adventurous taste buds of today’s young consumers.

“Both familiar and new snack items provide a similar opportunity to increase the transaction size/guest check average by driving incremental impulse sales,” says Collier.

Operators may be well-served by rotating new branded snack items into the offering, as 65 percent of consumers say they like to try new snacks, and 63 percent say they buy a variety of snacks, according to “Snack Attack,” a global research report from Nielsen. The research also illustrates the importance of impulse merchandising, as 58 percent of respondents in the survey say they do not plan their snack purchases.

Collier says foodservice operators generally have a range of options when it comes to promoting new snack items, including branded displays, table tents, posters and online promotions. Other options for promoting new snack items include digital menu boards, mobile apps and digital ordering kiosks.

“Front-of-the-house branded merchandising featuring new snack items can occur at various points of purchase within the foodservice establishment, whether it’s a restaurant, cafeteria operation, convenience store or other retail venue,” he says. “This can occur at the tabletop, at the counter where guests place their order, at the bar, in freestanding displays and near the cash register.

“Smart operators look for opportunities to use the interior space of the establishment to tastefully merchandise and promote products that add excitement, prompt profitable impulse sales and communicate the quality of the establishment by promoting recognized brands.”

In-store sampling is another tried-and-true — and highly visible — method of introducing new snack items to customers. Snack brand suppliers will often support these types of promotions as well.

Limited-time offers, or LTOs, provide an ideal vehicle for introducing new items and driving awareness, says Chris Baldner, senior vice president, noncommercial, in the foodservice division of Acosta Sales & Marketing, a sales and marketing services company based in Jacksonville, Florida.

“LTOs are a great strategy to find out if a new item will work before you fully commit to it, so use them, especially during high traffic times/seasons,” he says.

Collier of Concepts for Profit cites as an example of a successful new product introduction in foodservice the joint branding introduction between Mondelez International and J&J Snack Foods for OREO® Churros.

“It turned out to be one of the most successful foodservice sales drivers in the convenience store sector, and is now widely available in the supermarket sector,” he says.



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