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Independent retailers rely on impulse shopping. Their business depends on merchandising categories like drinks and snacks to pick up those unplanned purchases.

Impulse purchasing is at the very heart of convenience stores’ business.
Shoppers will visit the store to buy a loaf of bread or a newspaper and end up buying a chocolate bar, soft drink or pack of crisps on impulse.
Independent retailers therefore need to merchandise these categories as well as possible to attract those impulse purchases.
Recognisable, established brands with a high rate of sale will comprise the must-stock essentials within each category in store.
With a category like soft drinks, where the market is fast-moving and full of innovation from large and small brands, it becomes even more important to include these must-stocks in your range to ensure shoppers can always find the drinks they’re looking for.
“Lucozade Energy, the UK’s number one energy brand, is growing at 13% (IRI) and therefore an important part of any retailer’s chiller,” comments Matt Gouldsmith – Channel Director, Wholesale at Lucozade Ribena Suntory. “We offer our customers a range of flavours and formats to target different types of shoppers, including pricemarked packs to help retailers demonstrate value-for-money in store.”
Similarly, Lucozade Sport, the best-selling sports drink in the category (IRI), will form the basis of a store’s sports drink range.
In the past year, Lucozade Sport grew by 3.5M litres (IRI) in the symbols and independents channel; the largest growth contributed by any sports drink brand.
Gouldsmith says it’s essential that several facings of the brand’s popular flavours – including shoppers’ favourite Orange and the fastest-growing variant Raspberry – are included in the chiller.
“Lastly, Ribena the biggest juice-drink in the independent and symbols channel (IRI), is vital to signpost the segment in the chiller to consumers,” adds Gouldsmith. “Don’t forget about Ribena Light to offer a lower-sugar juice drink option too.”
In order to mirror what shoppers will be looking for, space in the soft drinks chiller should be allocated according to what sells best, Gouldsmith suggests. “The bulk of each segment should be made up of the biggest brands, including the UK’s number one energy brand, Lucozade Energy, category-leading sports drink Lucozade Sport and shoppers’ favourite juice drink, Ribena,” he says. “It’s also crucial that the brands’ zero-sugar variants – Lucozade Zero and Lucozade Sport Low Cal – are available too, as the number of sugar-conscious shoppers looking for zero-calorie options continues to grow.”
Gouldsmith advises retailers to follow simple category advice to focus on layout, review their range regularly and stock up frequently to make the most of this profitable category. SKUs should be brand-blocked with a minimum of two facings per flavour, and more for a best-seller like Lucozade, he suggests.
Food to go
Lunch and afternoon are the most common times to purchase snacks and food to go, but the on-the-go breakfast mission is growing. Mintel insights show that 98% of adults snack at home, work or a place of study.
“It’s important to consider times of day when merchandising, to take account of the on-the-go mission,” comments Susan Nash, Trade Communications Manager at Mondelēz International. “Breakfast and lunch are all about routine and convenience, whereas afternoon is about hunger and wanting a treat so presents a significant impulse opportunity. Retailers should be aware that the convenience channel is really important for this mission as the convenience element plays a big role.”
Confectionery is a key category, not only because of its scale, but because it is the most impulsive category stocked within convenience.
“On-the-go and single confectionery is a critically important category and if its potential is fully maximised, it can play a significant role in driving incremental sales,” adds Nash. “Stock leading singles brands such as Twirl, Wispa and Cadbury Dairy Milk to increase impulse sales from shoppers.”
Food to go has also spread into the breakfast category. Out-of-home breakfasts are currently seeing double digit growth (Kantar); retailers have a great opportunity to drive impulse sales by offering convenient formats which cater to consumers’ busy lives.
belVita Breakfast is available in convenient single packs, in several variants: belVita Strawberry Duo Crunch, belVita Honey & Nut, belVita Crunchy Hazelnut and Soft Bakes Choc Chip.
With one of the highest repeat rates in the entire biscuits category at 60% (Kantar), belVita has continued to lead the healthy biscuits and breakfast biscuits segment through continued investment in new products and large-scale marketing campaigns.
The biscuit category is key for the convenience sector, worth £2.3bn (Nielsen) in the UK, and provides a great opportunity for convenience stores to help drive their impulse sales. Retailers should ensure they tap into the latest trends to make the most of the category, Nash suggests.
Mondelēz International launched a new treat brand last summer – Joyfills. The Joyfills range comprises light, crispy bites with a creamy filling.
The range launched with four variants endorsed by two power brands; the world’s number one biscuit brand (Euromonitor) Oreo and the nation’s favourite chocolate (Nielsen) Cadbury.
The flavours are Joyfills Oreo, Joyfills Oreo Choco Caramel Creme, Joyfills Cadbury Milk Chocolate Creme, Joyfills Cadbury Choco Cookie Creme.
Each Joyfill bite is just one gram in size – great for on the go – with an airy crispy casing filled with ultra-smooth crème.
Mondelēz International also offers a range of single serve biscuits to cater to the on-the-go mission and encourage impulse snack purchases. Nash advises retailers to stock up on treat-size packs of brands like Cadbury Snack, Cadbury Roundie, Oreo and Mikado and merchandise near other food-to-go ranges to drive cross-category sales.
Retailers can gain further advice on how to maximise impulse sales at:
Rustlers, the number one micro-snacking brand, has annual sales of £92m and is growing at 2.4% in convenience (Nielsen).
Decision making in the micro-snacking category is highly impulsive, with 74% of purchase decisions being unplanned or semi-planned (Kepak) indicating a big opportunity for retailers to increase basket spend. Free Rustlers POS helps signpost the category and drive impulse purchases from the chiller.
“Having a clear understanding of shopper missions is vital for growth. A combination of dual income households, late retirement and busy lifestyles is resulting in a lack of time, which means it’s more important than ever before to provide shoppers with the quick and convenient solutions they are seeking,” says Monisha Singh, Shopper Marketing Manager at Kepak Consumer Foods.
“Chilled food delivers a higher basket size and spend than any other category which highlights the importance retailers should be placing on their chilled offering,” continues Singh.
Rustlers is working closely with retailers to provide the right range for their store and to ensure that they are maximising the opportunity the chiller presents with a new merchandising strategy, which includes tailored planograms to suit different store types and locations.
“We’re working hard to educate retailers on the right range for their store, and advise on best practice for merchandising the chiller, such as ensuring 100% availability on shelf since shoppers buy two packs of Rustlers per trip on average,” adds Singh.
Thanks to the introduction of the Rustlers All Day Breakfast Sausage Muffin, Rustlers now features in the key consumption occasions of breakfast, lunch and dinner, with a major presence in the important shopper mission of food to go, but also in meal for tonight and top up.
Since launching in May 2018, Rustlers All Day Breakfast Sausage Muffin is now worth £6.6m and holds 87% share of trade in the Micro-Snacking breakfast occasion (Nielsen).
Convenience stores which offer hot food to go also generate a higher basket spend, with the average basket spend of a ‘hot’ food to go shopper over 10% more than the average food to go shopper (HIM).
Rustlers is also enabling retailers to offer an in-store cooking solution with its microwave or food to go unit, both proven to boost sales of hot food without concerns over waste and the additional labour costs associated with food to go counters.
Ideally, they should be sited next to the front-of-store chiller or with other food to go options, which act as a signpost for shoppers, Singh suggests. To maximise visibility, free POS advises shoppers that they can heat up the products in-store after purchase.
The unit is pre-programmed to cook the best-selling Rustlers SKUs, but it can also cook other microwavable products. It comes with a large preparation area and built-in waste bin to keep the surrounding area tidy.
Understanding local shoppers
Understanding local shopper needs is crucial for getting your offering right, says Sean Russell, Marketing Director, Costcutter Supermarkets Group. Through its Shopper First Programme, Costcutter has provided insights specific to each individual store within the Group, helping retailers decide upon a strategy to drive footfall and basket spend that is unique for their store, location and their shoppers.
“By understanding their local shoppers, retailers can understand how to attract new shoppers through the door and what will drive basket spend,” comments Russell. “At the same time, the immensely popular introduction of Co-op Own Brand products into our stores has allowed many of our retailers to transform their stores into popular one stop shopping destinations.”
To continue maximising impulse sales, Costcutter has supplied its top 200 retailers with wrapped dump bins after new research revealed that they are the most effective ‘off shelf’ solution to drive shopper engagement.
Costcutter’s mission is to help independent retailers thrive, giving them the insights and support they need to grow their businesses.
By using the branded dump bins for fast-moving promotions, increasing brand awareness and visibility, retailers can drive sales and increase their bottom line.
“We are committed to expanding the shopper insights we provide,” adds Russell. “The next phase of our Shopper First Programme will see retailers provided with an even deeper understanding of their existing and potential local shoppers so they can develop truly local offers. For many of our retailers, it is small, incremental changes which have delivered the strongest results and we’ll continue to share best practice and secrets to success across our network.”