Optimizing any aisle in a convenience store — but especially candy — means weighing a wide variety of factors and leaving no stone unturned in order to maximize sales.
That’s admittedly a tall order, as a category like candy has so many moving parts — from different types of candy, limited-time offers, local demographics, sales and taste trends, nutrition and wholesaler/distributor support to square footage, store configuration, merchandising, signage, packaging, promotions, employee training, lighting and more.
Retailers who successfully coordinate those moving parts are able to wring as many dollars out of this essential category as possible.
The first step is to place candy front and center. According to VideoMining, an in-store shopper behavior data and insights agency in State College, Penn., 59% of candy purchases are made in the primary aisle of the store.
Many retailers like to shelve confectionary items — primarily chocolate, the candy category’s highest-penetration segment — at the beginning of the aisle to entice shoppers. At the opposite end, they stock gum and mints, consistently the most-planned candy subcategory.
Building the candy set around high-volume power brands also moves more product. Consumers enjoy the added value of larger packages, like sharing sizes in resealable bags or pouches. Mega plastic packs with as many as 35 sticks of gum, for example, have caught on, as have bottle packs that can fit in car cup holders.
Sets are commonly merchandised vertically on shelves to create so-called “billboards.” Attractive shelving that is organized and fully stocked, and that combines traditional favorites and line extensions, work well.
Visibility is crucial. Shoppers spend only 31 seconds in that primary aisle, VideoMining found. Signage should help passing shoppers instantly identify promotional offers. Needless to say, frequent replenishment is indispensable.
Category management based on accurate and timely sales data is similarly key. Not just sales but promotional offers, and both taste and packaging trends, must be factored in. Consumers always look for what’s exciting, so candy sets should include new arrivals to keep interest high.
C-store shoppers are also increasingly looking for healthier candies being marketed as all-natural, low-sugar, non-GMO and/or containing no synthetics or artificial colors, flavors or sweeteners. Here, especially, signage plays an important role.