Crisps and snacks is a versatile category, capable of driving sales by providing valuable impulse purchases. But in a market with strong trends towards healthier eating and premium products, how can retailers use ranging, merchandising and display to boost sales? Toby Hill reports
Work with suppliers and symbol groups
We have a Walkers rep who comes in every two months. He helps us tidy our fixture, replenishes any stock that’s running low and puts out new crisps and snacks. He also monitors what’s selling well. He’s clearly an expert on the category, and we don’t buy from a wholesaler – we just let Walkers put the stock in, which saves us a lot of time. For the rest of our crisps range, we work with our symbol group. The products come from our wholesaler, then Family Shopper’s merchandisers make up the display.
Step up your variety
At one point – when people bought more standard-size bags – my crisps stand was completely dominated by Walkers. But I’ve noticed that, as customers have moved towards buying £1 sharing bags, they’ve also become more willing to buy other, quirkier varieties. £1 price-marked packs of Golden Wonder, Space Raiders and Ringos are all big crisps and snacks sellers in my store.
Drive cross-category purchases
Put crisps, snacks and nuts next to categories that shoppers buy with them most frequently. For example, 71% of occasions containing alcohol include at least one snack, so retailers in England and Wales can boost cross-category buying by positioning nuts and crisps with beers, wines and spirits. Similarly, 44% of crisps and snacks shoppers will also buy soft drinks, so consider merchandising these categories together, too.
Offer £1 sharing bags
Over the past 18 months, I’ve noticed a significant shift away from standard-size bags of crisps towards larger bags price-marked at £1. They call them ‘sharing bags’, but I don’t see many people sharing them. I’ve responded by moving my display away from the smaller 30p bags, replacing them with £1 bags. It’s definitely boosted my sales.
Study sales data and tweak your range
Last year, my average margins across the store were 23%. I thought there was room for improvement, so I spent time looking closely at the sales data, and getting rid of low-margin products that weren’t selling well. We have a Lidl, Asda and Sainsbury’s close by, so I consider my stock in light of what they have. By tweaking my range and selling more profitable lines I’ve managed to push that average margin up to 25% so far this year.
Offer healthy alternatives
Consumers are becoming more mindful snackers. They expect healthier products not only to be low in fat, salt and sugar, but also to offer benefits such as protein or fibre. They also want clean labels that list natural ingredients they recognise. Our ‘better for you’ range contains lighter snacks, such as Lentil Waves, with fewer than 100 calories.
Don’t be scared of trying new products
Our area is generally quite slow at picking up trends, so I’m often a little wary of trying out new products, but the crisps category is different. We had McCoy’s Muchos on offer late last month; we put them on a promotional bay and they flew out the store. I think people are more open to new products in the crisps category. When it’s a full meal you don’t want to take a risk, but people might buy three or four £1 bags of crisps at a time, so trying something new isn’t a problem.
Cash in on the trend for cheese snacking
Trends, such as the recent backlash against sugar and the growing popularity of protein-based snacks, have boosted the adult cheese snacking sector, which is growing at more than 30% value and volume year on year. This means offering a lacklustre array of crisps and chocolate countlines is no longer enough for snack shoppers.
Target premium consumers
Whether eating out or enjoying a special night in, there is a growing trend towards premium food and drink consumption. Customers are becoming more discerning – and the good news is that they are willing to pay for more premium products. For example, Mediterranean herb flavours are an increasingly popular choice in food and drinks. Pipers’ new Jalapeno & Dill flavour combination is perfectly targeted to harness these trends.
Drive impulsive purchases with secondary sitings
38% of shoppers buy something from secondary sitings. Retailers should make use of branded display and PoS for their crisps and snacks, such as stackers and dump bins, to drive basket spend. They should also consider placing these in high-footfall areas, such as by the till, to boost impulse purchases.
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