Expert advice

The panel on how to capitalise on emerging consumer trends shared expert advice on how to spot the most profitable convenience trends which can help attract additional footfall.

Chairing the session was Newtrade Media editor of news Jack Courtez. His panel included four retailers with years of expert knowledge on the afternoon’s topic. Mo Lowry, of Premier Bear Street Store in Dunstaple, brings experience of hot food trends from her time working in Japan’s convenience market.

Sid Sidhu, of St John’s Budgens in Kenilworth, has an affluent customer base, while Abdul Arain, of Al-Amin Stores in Cambridge, serves an international mix of university students and professionals.

The final retailer was Jack Matthews, of Nisa Bradley’s Supermarket in Quorn, who comes from a family of convenience store owners. These retailers were joined by KP Snacks trading director Matt Collins, who regularly works with retailers and wholesalers across independent convenience.

The panel opened with a question on how important adopting the latest product trends are for attracting customers. “They play an instrumental role and attract extra sales,” said Sidhu. “It’s all about the timing. Use social media to engage with customers and getting knowledge about trends from celebrities and sporting events is key. You can only have them for a limited time.”

Quick off the mark

Lowry agreed with Sidhu’s point and advised retailers to jump on trends immediately. “You need to get there first because the supermarkets will get them,” she said. “Go to another wholesaler or find another source and put them on the counter immediately. In my experience, five boxes of the most popular product will only last a few days.”

The experts went on to discuss how long the store should dedicate to a trend. Matthews said: “Within the first 12 weeks of a new product launching, your sales will be high. But it’s not just about the timing. You’ve got to consider whether it has a standout feature. It has to earn the space.”

Sidhu added: “In terms of the promotional cycle for new products, I keep them at a weekly cycle. It’s about switching promotions to trick the customer because they will get bored after a couple of weeks.”

However, Collins argued retailers should devote more time to new products. “You have to give products a longer promotional window to let customers take them in. A three-week cycle works better, but you don’t have to go as far as five weeks.”

Knowing your community

The panel agreed towards the end of the session that getting to know your local community was another useful way to find the best trends. Arain said: “I stock vegetable crisps and Om Bars, which are vegan chocolate bars. Talk to your demographic. I have a lot of customers from the US who are willing to pay £3.99 for a can of American Fanta.”

Lowry added working with local suppliers can provide a point of difference. “I go to my nearby market and look at which products are selling well. I also go to my nearest cake store. Speak to these suppliers and strike a relationship with them. They can provide you with products which the supermarkets can’t sell.”

The session ended with all panellists agreeing the best way to make the most of trends is to jump on them immediately before the competition does. Retailers should really make space for these products and create attention through in-store theatre. It doesn’t matter if these trends are popular for a month, or a year; the most crucial action is to make your customers aware of their existence.

Key takeaways

  • Don’t be scared to try new ideas and products
  • See how trending products perform after the trend slows down
  • Use theatre and other forms of merchandising to market new product launches
  • Build excitement and hype for emerging trends