The Wealth in Health
Health food and drink is undeniably a growing market within the convenience sector. More people are looking to eat, drink and snack much more healthily than ever before. So how can convenience stores cash in on this growing appetite? We asked the National Convenience Show exhibitors about their experience of the health food market and how and why business owners should make the jump.
Why should stores consider growing their health food range?
“Healthy snacking offers more potential for millennial customers of whom 77%* believe they can’t get through the day without a healthy snack,” says Kevin Smith of Battle Oats cookies and flapjacks. “Sales of protein bars, for example, have been growing 47% year-over-year making them the second fastest growing category behind e-cigarettes. For these reasons, stores should look to grow their health food range and work with multiple brands within the sector, stocking the very best hero SKUs from each brand to maximise sales and increase revenue.”
Meanwhile, Phil Evans of Dr Zak’s high protein foods and snacks has wise words of caution: “The demand for health foods is growing and without a suitable range instore you will miss out on sales. Whereas a customer looking for a chocolate bar may pick up another variety if there isn’t stock of the type they originally want, a customer looking for a healthy product won’t substitute for an unhealthy one, they simply won’t purchase.”
“The soft drinks sugar tax is a hugely positive move for both the industry and the public,” says Paul Gurnell, Sales Director of Savsé juices and smoothies. “Convenience retailers need to grab it with both hands, as it presents a fantastic opportunity to increase sales of healthier drinks such as smoothies in their stores.”
What sorts of products should they consider?
“Try to look for a variety of products,” Phil Evans continues. “Avoid buying purely one type (e.g. protein bars) as this will limit incremental sales. Other products such as protein cookies are available on the market and will offer your customers choice and you increased revenue. Also look for a selection of products that can meet dietary requirements such as halal, vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free.”
“Shoppers and consumers tell us that the sugar percentage is one of the key things they look for on a label,” says Paul Gurnell, “so stocking Savsé juices and smoothies (which are sugar tax exempt) will enable retailers to capitalise on a trend which is definitely here to stay.”
What makes a product attractive to the health-conscious shopper?
Dr Zak’s are in the know when it comes to the importance of attractive packaging. They say: “The packaging design of a product makes a huge difference to how wide a demographic it will appeal to. Therefore, look out for bright, non-aggressive and gender-neutral packaging to maximise on this. Further to this, ensure that the key selling points of products are clear and easy to understand as purchase decisions are made in split seconds.”
What is the most important nutritional information that consumers look for on the label?
“Protein and sugar content are the most scrutinised nutritionals on health products,” says Phil Evans. “The introduction of the sugar tax has heightened this, and it’s now believed at least 53% of people are actively trying to reduce their sugar intake. Furthermore, protein is a buzzword that is here to stay and now 49% of people understand that it is beneficial to health.”
Are there any pitfalls to be avoided when considering stocking healthier foods and snacks?
Again, Phil Evans of Dr Zak’s has a good point to consider. He says, “while easy to fall into the trap, try to not assume that a traditional grocery brand with a ‘healthier’ version is going to sell best. More niche brands that operate solely in the healthier foods or snacks sector will often have a greater appeal to that customer group.”
You can meet Savsé, Dr Zak’s and Battle Oats at this year’s National Convenience Show at the locations listed below. And don’t miss the live panel session: Putting Health on the Shelf with David Ross, Convenience Store editor (Monday 16th April at the Retailer Hub 1:45pm - 2:15pm) which promises to present a bounty of knowledge about the growing health food market.
*Snacking in Foodservice. Mintel.