The early trade is the most important time of the day for many convenience retailers. Nikki Allen finds out four ways you can own the morning in your area.
Bakery and Coffee
Consumers now drink 2.3bn cups of coffee per year on the go, which is around 45 cups per adult per year. This is a massive opportunity for your store, especially as 19% of shoppers claim they regularly buy from convenience stores.
Breakfast items on the go are also in huge demand. “As shoppers’ lives have become busier, demand for on-the-go breakfast lines has increased,” says Paul Whitely, head of marketing at Aryzta Food Solutions. “They are looking for quality breakfast bakery items that can be enjoyed on the move.”
To maximise your sales you should cross-promote coffee with hot food to go to offer your customers a complete breakfast option.
“Offering link-deals for shoppers looking to pick up a pastry with their coffee is a simple yet effective way of driving breakfast sales,” Whitley says.
Bacon rolls and savoury lines are key for cross-promotions, but sweet bakery lines can also be effective with hot drinks. Samantha Winsor, assistant brand manager at Lantmännen Unibake, says hot drinks and pastry pairings could include a croissant with a flat white, mocha or a hot chocolate; or a pain au chocolat with a latte, which is Britain’s favourite coffee.
“Other popular pairings include a maple pecan plait with an espresso or black coffee, and cinnamon swirls with hot chocolate,” she adds.
Timing is key when it comes your bakery offer, as you need to make sure it is kept as fresh as possible. Hannah Morter, Country Choice marketing executive, says: “Hot breakfast on-the-go products should be merchandised in a designated hot unit until around 11:30am when a lunchtime range should take its place.”
Hot trends in cereal
Worth £1.3bn annually, cereal is a vital category for convenience retailers, with consumers eating 11 billion bowls of cereal or porridge each year.
When convenience shoppers buy cereal, the average value of their food basket more than doubles from £6.28 to £13.69.
“Ninety-five per cent of households still buy breakfast cereals every fortnight,” says Kevin Verbruggen, head of brand at Weetabix.
A particular success story in the cereal market is hot cereals, which are in growth, according to Eric Williams, Quaker Oats marketing manager at PepsiCo: “We anticipate the mainstream popularity of protein to continue, as health remains high on the consumer agenda. More people are looking for healthy and convenient breakfast options.”
The trend for health is certainly high on the agenda, with sugar now the main blame for obesity. Kellogg’s announced in late 2017 that it would reduce sugar across three of its bestselling children’s’ cereals, Coco Pops, Rice Krispies and Rice Krispies Multi-Grain Shapes.
And while sugar is being removed, protein-packed products are on the up, and should form part of your range. Protein cereals are the fastest growing segment in the category, up by 7.3%, due to a 40% increase in consumers looking to add more protein to their diet.
Four ways to merchandise your breakfast fixture
· Group cereals into segments or flavours including everyday family, single serve and porridge. This can boost sales by 19%
· Use shippers and POS to grab shoppers’ attention, and label promotions clearly
· Display top-selling brands at eye-level, with the bestselling lines positioned in the middle of a ‘diamond’ layout
· Keep up with current trends: gluten-free and protein are out-performing market growth. Cross-merchandise by occasion, and create secondary displays with other breakfast items like milk or bread
Get ready for top-up shopping
As nearly half of Brits says they visit convenience stores for a top-up shop, and 75% say the longer opening times makes shopping in convenience stores easier for them, independent retailers are ideally placed to cash in on early morning sales.
To make the most of the trend you need to know your customers and what they are looking for in the early hours.
Research by Imperial Brands shows the period between just after 7am until 8:30am is the second busiest time of the day for tobacco sales in the independent channel. Many adult smokers buy their tobacco in the morning along with, for instance, a paper and milk.
Other popular items for morning top-up shopping are newspapers, milk and hot drinks, says Helen Boulter, channel controller at Taylors of Harrogate, says hot drinks are often purchased as part of a top-up shop, so having a strong range on offer will drive sales.
“Hot drinks are ideally placed near complementary breakfast items, such as bakery products and fresh milk. For coffee shoppers, newspapers, especially on Sundays, are also key,” she says.
Helen Boulter, Taylors of Harrogate channel controller, gives five top tips to help retailers drive breakfast sales
1) Stock well-known brands as only 5% of hot beverage shoppers would choose to buy own label over a mainstream brand
2) Make sure you are stocking the pack sizes that your shoppers are looking for in convenience, such as packs of 40s and 80s teabags.
3) Merchandise take-home hot beverages next to bakery products, biscuits and fresh milk. Coffee to go should be next to newspapers.
4) Stay competitive with price-marked packs as these give shoppers confidence in your store’s prices.
5) Shoppers are increasingly looking for premium products, so stock premium black tears and quality coffees to capitalise on this trend.
Be the news hub in your area
For many convenience retailers, the majority of newspaper sales take place in the early hours. And for some retailers, there are even more potential profits to be made by offering an home news delivery (HND) service.
This not only brings shoppers a convenient service – but also encourages them into your store each week, offering a great opportunity to promote other morning goods, says Janette Tucker, manager at the Lifestyle Express village store in Winscombe, Somerset.
“Customers either pay us monthly with an invoice or they can pay when they come in the shop each week,” she says. “We’re the only store in the whole area that does that.”
Last year, publishers such as News UK, Mail Newspapers, DMG Media teamed up to launch Deliver My Paper, which allows customers to order their paper and have it delivered to them by independent retailers.
Kevin Beatty, chief executive of DMG Media, says: “As an industry we recognise that home news delivery is a service cherished and valued by around 20% of our readers.”
Do it: Interested in becoming a HND retailer? Call 0207 689 3379 to get started