Customers excitedly expressed their opinions on the new products that were displayed at this year’s Consumer’s Choice New Products Contest.
By Amber Koontz, editorial assistant
Convenience Store Decisions’ (CSD) second-annual Consumer’s Choice New Products Contest kicked off on Thursday, July 28 at 2 p.m. in the parking lot of the truenorth convenience store in Medina, Ohio.
The event, which had live radio coverage, drew in crowds of truenorth customers as well as curious passersby who were eager to taste test and evaluate a range of new products in a variety of categories and have a chance at winning a $50 fuel card.
Customers who stopped by the contest tent grabbed a new product evaluation form and dug into the variety of foods and beverages before them. Many customers expressed their excitement about having the opportunity to sample products—many of which haven’t even hit the shelves yet—but they were even more excited to have the chance to voice their opinions on these new items.
Having the chance to sample as many products as they desired, customers were asked to rate the items they tried on taste, innovation, likeliness to buy and portability. The contest hosted over 60 different product SKUs, and there was something for even the pickiest eater to try.
Health Food is a Hit
One category that garnered a great deal of excitement was the Healthy Options category. One customer, Pam Watson, from Dayton, Ohio expressed her approval for some of the healthy options that were offered at the event.
Watson expressed particular excitement over a snack pack that featured apple slices, cheese cubes, nuts and dried cranberries. “I work in the schools as a physical education teacher,” Watson said, “and I would love to see more kids eating something like this. It has everything: protein and vitamins, and it’s gluten free and low in calories!”
Watson’s daughter, Anna, said that she typically stops at a convenience store twice a month, but she said she would definitely stop more often if her local convenience store offered a wider variety of healthy options.
A number of truenorth regulars stopped by the contest tent, spending a good portion of the afternoon sampling as many products as they could. Of these regulars, many were able to identify at least one of the products offered as something that they hope to see on truenorth’s shelves in the future.
“I really like this drinkable yogurt,” said Kelly Albertoni, who visits the Medina truenorth store on a daily basis. “I would definitely buy something like this. I would also be happy to see more organic products on the shelves.”
Traveling salesman Scott Newcomb, who eats at a convenience store at least three days a week, also said he would be happy to find more healthy food options at convenience stores. “I mostly eat burgers or other grab-and-go items,” Newcomb said. “But it is all the same, and it gets pretty boring. I love to try new items that look good. Something unique is always a nice break from the ordinary. Healthier options are great, because it is important to have balance.”
Bringing in Business
If the big, white tent surrounded by crowds of excited consumers wasn’t enough to draw in more customers, the live radio coverage for the event sure was. One team member working inside the truenorth store told CSD that a number of customers had come to the register saying that they had heard about the store on the radio and decided to drop by to grab some snacks for the road.
“I am really excited that the event is bringing some extra business into the store,” agreed Lindsey Lyden, vice president of development and administration for Truenorth Energy LLC.
Lyden stated that she had not known what to expect from the event, but she was quite pleased with the turnout. She remarked upon the excitement that the event had evoked in the customers, and she was happy to find that many of the products included in the competition were high quality and deserving of a spot on the shelves in truenorth stores. Lyden also remarked on the importance of this type of event, not only to suppliers, but to convenience stores and consumers as well.
“Consumers’ opinions are extremely important,” Lyden said. “Customers want their voices to be heard, and listening to consumer opinions will benefit store business. Therefore, it is important that stores offer product feedback to vendors, and it crucial that suppliers take the customer’s voice into consideration.”
Contest winners for each product category will be announced in the coming week and featured in the October issue of Convenience Store Decisions. Trophies will be awarded to the winners during this year’s National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) Show in October. Feedback will also be offered to the product manufacturers, based on the contest results.
In addition to gathering feedback for suppliers, this event helped customers to feel more engaged with their local convenience store. Offering consumers the opportunity to voice their opinion on products that may soon appear on the shelves of their local store helps consumers feel that their voices are being heard and know that their opinions matter in the grand scheme of things. Understanding the evolving tastes of consumers is crucial in the convenience store business, and there is no better person to provide feedback on the desires of the consumer than consumers.