At the 2019 NACS Show, Oct. 1-4 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, among the education sessions on Thursday, retailers and suppliers discussed product trends in the cold vault, as well as best practices when adding new products to store shelves.
Cold Vault: Trends and Takeaways
In the session “Cold Vault: Trends and Takeaways,” representatives from Anheuser-Busch InBev, MillerCoors, Docklight Brands, Monster Beverage Company and The Coca Cola Co. spoke about beverage trends, moderated by OnCue Marketing Beer & Wine Category Manager Dr. Kim Cuellar, who provided current trends and research on many of these new options to help you benchmark and gain new ideas
The cold vault of 2019 is very different from the cold vault of 20 years ago. The exponential growth in alternative non-alcoholic beverages, craft beer and mixed alcoholic drinks have given category managers and customers infinite choices in the cold vault. In the session Cuellar provided current trends and research on many of these new options to help retailers benchmark and gain new ideas.
Additionally, industry experts from water, beer, energy and CBD beverage companies provided their perspectives on the research and what they see in their specific section of the cooler.
One trend discussed was CBD, a hot topic in the industry and one that Damian Marano, CEO of Docklight Brands, could speak to.
Marano pointed to CBD coffee and said the next form will be CBD as an additive in ready-to-drink (RTD) coffee.
Although some companies are already doing hemp beer, like Lagunitas and New Belgium, Marano said cannabis-infused beer is very difficult to produce, for a number of reasons, including the complicated transportation process.
At the Q&A after the presention, one attendees asked Michael Yager, Group Director, CSA Small Store Team, Coca Cola, if the company had plans to debut a CBD drink.
He said he did not have any information to share about CBD, next steps or a potential announcement, but added that the company is “really looking at all beverage choices at this point.”
Other trends mentioned in the session were bottles water, plant-based milk, benefit-enhanced energy drinks, RTD coffee, kombucha and alcohol trends, including seltzer, canned wine, above-premium beer and non-alcoholic beer.
“Seltzers are brining new drinkers in, and it’s keeping them in the category,” said Sara Hillstrom, Senior Director Category Leadership, Anheuser-Busch InBev. “I strongly believe this is a trend that’s here to say.”
Panelists also discussed sustainability from package to production. Marano said three quarters of all consumers are more willing to lead a lifestyle that’s more sustainable or buy products that are more sustainable.
Yager said one of Coca Cola’s goals is to make all of its bottles recyclable by 2030. Currently, he said, the company diverting about 700 million recyclables away from landfills every year.
First to Market: Getting New Product on Your Shelves
In the session “First to Market: Getting New Product on Your Shelves,” representatives from four convenience stores discussed best practices for adding new products to shelves, from preparing their stores, communicating effectively, creating promotions and educating employees.
Jared Scheeler, CEO of The Hub Convenience Stores Inc., moderated the session.
“One of the things I love about this industry is that we’re continuously evolving,” he said at the start of the session, before introducing the other speakers.
Daniel Moran, Category Manager at Rotten Robbie Convenience Stores, gave three main tips:
- Maximize vendor partnerships.
- Embrace schematic innovation.
- Organize your calendar.
He urged other retailers to learn on their vendors for support and to try sampling to introduce new and different products to customers.
“Sampling is huge for growing brands that are unknown at your stores,” he said.
Lonnie McQuirter, Director of Operations at 36 Lyn Refuel Station, spoke about how he partners with smaller, local vendors to stand out.
Smaller, local vendors are often supportive and do plenty of cross-promotion of the products and offers on social media.
McQuirter gave examples of how he and his team utilize social media to promote new products and give the brand a voice.
Bill McCloskey, COO of Rmarts LLC, further emphasized the importance of a strong brand.
“Your brand is your store or chain of stores,” he said. “It’s what you’re known for. It’s what sets you apart from your competition each and every day.”
He spoke about the role of effective signage and provided a success story involving Reign, a performance drink from Coca Cola that Rmarts promoted extensively through signage, discounts and employee selling.
“We need to embrace new brands as an opportunity to gain and maintain customers,” he said.