Monday, June 22, 2009

Changes in Convenience Categories

As convenience categories continue to prove profitable for many campus stores, I thought you might be interested in some statistics on year-to-year changes (2007-2008) for some lines. All these come from The Neilsen Co. via a March 30, 2009 article in Convenience Store News (

Packaged Beverages: The full category had only 1.3% change, but was -3.6% in unit volume. The leader in this category, clearly, was the Alternative sub-category--"energy" drinks.

Beer: Just kidding!

Candy: The category had a 3.9% change, but a -4.3% change in unit volume. The non-chocolate bars/packs sub-category lead in $ sales change (6.3%), but still fell in unit volume (-1.5%). More on this sub-group later. The novelties/seasonal sub-group had 5.3% change and 1.3% in volume...but most campus stores don't do too much in this area.

Salty Snacks: The full category had the best reported change in dollar sales at 4.4%. And the change in unit volume, while still negative, was only -0.9%. A winner in this category was "packaged ready-to-eat popcorn" at 13.9% change in dollar sales and 7.3% in unit volume.

Alternative Snacks: Another ho-hum set of results at 2.6% in sales and -2.8% in unit volume. However, the "granola / yogurt bars" sub-group came in at 5.6% change in sales and 1.0% in unit volume. Maybe the healthy eating trend is indeed here to stay.

I promised more about cereal and granola bars. A sidebar item in the same issue of Convenience Store News offered some interesting statistics from Mintel Int'l Group Ltd.:
  • Among users, granola and cereal bars are thought of as snacks (85% and 75%, respectively)
  • Cereal bars are more often chosen as a "meal replacement" (59% vs 39%) and use highest among 18- to 24-year-olds (66%). You hear that campus store folks with a traditional aged student population?!
  • Consumers 18-24 and 25-34 are most likely to consume both types of bars while working and traveling. Between class and studying?
  • Cereal bars are more likely to be consumed at breakfast (96% vs 78%), while granola bars win out at lunch time (41% vs 62%)
  • Survey respondents ages 25-34 were more likely to eat either type bar for breakfast.
  • Men are more likely than women to eat bars for lunch and dinner.
Happy snacking!

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