By Traci Dawn Carneal, Contributing Editor
As yoga, meditation and other stress-reducing techniques grow in popularity, it’s no surprise products designed to relax —rather than energize—grew in presence at this year’s Cool New Products Preview room at the NACS Show. Other themes that stood out were waters infused with just about anything you can imagine, bite-size snack varieties for on-the-go consumption, displays for electronic chargers, and more efficient and convenient equipment for displaying and serving beverages.
Retailers perused the room, recording items of strong interest with handheld scanners and getting ideas for new products to try. CSD talked with a few retailers for feedback—some came seeking a particular type of product or concept while others entered with no preconceived notions.
“That is the coolest thing,” said Jeff Kosher, owner of Xtreme Car Wash stations in Nathan, S.D. He was referring to a 24-hour machine that allows customers to get their own bag of ice with a credit card. The system is 100% self-serving—no store employee necessary—which appealed strongly to Kosher.
“I own car washes, so any way to extract income outside of business hours is a good deal,” he said. “It’s a clean looking machine…really, really cool.” Several other retailers had the same reaction.
Bill Nolan, vice president of marketing for Family Express, Valparaiso, Ind., (CSD’s Chain of the Year), centered his attention on Celcius beverages. “The colors are so robust,” he said. “The packaging is not completely unique (a tall, slender aluminum can), but the color may be enough to get a burst of sales. Good retailers are constantly deleting items and trying something new.” Nolan also liked the larger-size packages of over the counter (OTC) health and beauty care products, such as Advil, Tylenol and other OTC product.
Richard Perry, president and CEO of Aloha Petroleum Ltd., Honolulu, Hawaii, was intrigued with a coffee and tea dispensing machine that features a plastic bag insert with the beverage ready to load. “The display is nice, and I really like the plastic bag for holding the beverage rather than a powder mix or having to pour it into the dispenser. It is so much easier to replenish,” he said.
Visitors scanned more than 290,000 products over four days at the NACS Show. Here are the top 10 product scans:
- Gehl Foods Inc., 2.0 Gehls Dispenser
- iSEE Store Innovations LLC, iSEE ROLLER CHILL
- Marmon Group, a Berkshire Hathaway Co., IDC PRO
- CAF LLC, BOOST HD™ & EVERO™ TABS
- Presence from Innovation LLC, Intelli-System
- thinkThin LLC, thinkThin Protein Bites & Protein & Fiber Oatmeal
- Marmon Group, a Berkshire Hathaway Co., Viper Elite “Carbon” 4 Flavor
- FIFO Wireless, Flamingo 7 LED Collection
- Sargento Foods Inc., Sargento “Balanced Breaks”
- General Mills Inc., Pillsbury Minis