By Erin Rigik, Associate Editor.
The convenience store industry has long been known for its retail innovations and this year’s NACS Show, held last month in Atlanta, didn’t disappoint in showcasing cutting-edge products and technology.
Convenience store retailers had the chance to tour hundreds of new-to-industry products in one room—the Cool New Products Preview Room. The room helps retail buyers focus in on the latest innovations in a number of key areas, including eco-friendly, health and wellness, product line extensions and new technology.
Terry Taylor, senior category manager for GPM Investments, which operates more than 615 Fas Mart convenience stores, was busy scouting out the array of e-cigarettes inside the preview room.
“As a tobacco buyer I’m interested in learning more about the e-cigarettes being offered. Right now, there are so many options available, but we can’t carry all of them—we have to pair down to the best selection for our customers,” he said. “We are already doing a good business with moist tobacco and cigars, and now we have to determine the e-cigarette variety for our customers. Seeing the new opportunities in one room is a big help.”
The Cool New Products Room offered an array of options for Taylor to examine, including Altria’s MarkTen, R.J. Reynold’s VUSE and V2 Cig’s Vapor Couture for women, not to mention a variety of e-hookas and e-cigars.
In addition to the electronic tobacco items, Taylor was also eyeing some of the more healthful snacks dotting the room. But as far as the ones his stores’ customers would like best, it was hard to tell. “Customers say they want healthier items, but then they often end up buying something else,” he noted.
Mediterranean Snack Foods Co.’s Tapaz 2 Go lentil crackers with sea salt and hummus caught the eye of Marie Tutterow, of wholesaler H.T. Hackney Co., based in Johnson City, Tenn. “I like that it’s all contained in one package so customers don’t need to buy the crackers separately,” she said.
The Krave Treat Bar by Kellogg Co. also attracted Tutterow’s attention. “I noticed the chocolate Krave bars because they have both the taste and texture customers want in one product. It’s crunchy like Rice Krispies, but also has that caramel and chocolate flavor—all things that people look for in a sweet snack,” she noted.
Retailers received personalized scanners when they entered the room so they could scan product bar codes to receive more information about the products that most attracted their attention and find them later on the trade show floor for more information.
According to NACS, the top 10 scans from the show were:
1. f’real foods, f’real foods (Booth 3119)
2. Nutella & Go and Tic Tac Cinnamon, Ferrero U.S.A. Inc. (Booth 4769)
3. Safe-T-Fresh Grab and Go Cups, Inline Plastics Corp. (Booth 3162)
4. TABASCO Chocolate, TOBASCO Chocolate (Booth 6066)
5. SpellBrite, Optiva (Booth 3918)
6. MiniSyrup, MiniSyrup (Booth 3219)
7. Plug & Go, Factory Candy (Booth 6569)
8. Price Watcher, Watchfire Signs (Booth 3875)
9. Hot-Can Self-Heating Beverages, Hot-Can Inc. (Booth 6897)
10. Cold Cow Milk Shake SMOOTHIE, Omni Food Concepts (Booth 1962)