The need to effectively merchandise tobacco in convenience stores has grown in importance due to what some c-store executives see as industry dynamics that have led them to focus more on three product categories: vaping, cigars and other tobacco products (OTP).
Some see selling combustible cigarettes as a challenge requiring large amounts of capital, which has impacted sales. Others have claimed that being held to longstanding contracts that protect cigarette space on the fixtures keeps them from expanding OTP, costing them valuable vendor funding that would allow them to price more competitively in their market.
Most retailers agree that the single best strategy that c-stores can employ in order to merchandise tobacco more effectively is to ensure a highly visible, clean look. Product should be in front of the customers’ faces when they check out.
Operators should avoid at all costs a cluttered, messy set. Indeed, many of the tobacco merchandising best practices consists of common sense and retailing basics: reduce upfront clutter so that facings are more easily visible. Allow room for promotional signs and other materials up front, in windows and around the store.
Lighting is always important, as is making room for the host of smoking accessories like lighters, lighter fluid, butane fuel, matches, papers, cigarette cases, pipes, pipe cleaners, cutters, snuffers, air fresheners, humidors, tubes, injector machines and ash trays. Hand-in-hand with sharp merchandising must be employee education so they can explain and suggest products.
Another strategy that sharp c-store operators are using is to set up a dedicated section for all nicotine pouch items rather than having them scattered in different places.
Cigarettes, moist snuff, cigars, and vape usually have a dedicated section, but nicotine pouch often does not.
Many c-stores are placing their nicotine pouch section at the top of the back-bar fixture with a header instead of moist snuff and, in some cases, cigars.
Visibility, again, is key. Space should also be made for can rolls. Most retailers are selling five-can rolls, which offer a dollar ring of around $20 and account for approximately a quarter of moist snuff volume.