Next to baseball, snacking is the Great American Pastime. Cravings for something crunchy and salty can strike any time of day or night. Research has also shown that consumers, especially younger ones, frequently skip at least one of the traditional, daily three-square meals, choosing instead to tame their hunger pangs with snacks. For both reasons, the salty snacks category is an important one for convenience stores.
Whether the desired munchables of the moment are pretzels, potato or corn chips, popcorn, cheese puffs or packaged nuts or seeds, the appeal of salty snacks spans all seasons. To satisfy everyone from lone snackers to those who like to share, stores should stock an extensive selection in a variety of sizes.
Salty is usually followed by thirsty. (That’s why bars often offer free pretzels or salted peanuts.) So be sure to cross merchandise a selection of salty snacks near the beverage coolers and beer cave. Potato and corn chips also pair perfectly with sandwiches and individual-size packages tuck neatly into lunchboxes, so they should be highlighted near the grab-and-go and/or full-service delis.
In addition to the big national brands, be sure to stock a good representation of favorite local and regional brands. Some convenience store around the country have made an impact in the category by launching their own proprietary salty snack lines into the mix.
Almost all brands are constantly adding new, innovative flavors in response to ever-evolving consumer preferences. Keep track of the flavor profiles that sell well in other categories in your stores. Do your customers like spicy foods? Are they adventurous in their flavor choices? Are they more traditional in their tastes?
Once you make these determinations, you’ll be able to build a diverse salty snack category that reflects their preferences, pleases a wide range of palates and keeps bringing customers back to find out what’s new and exciting.