Trends & Insights

The Sweet Opportunity for Food Service

David Nolen
Senior Director U.S. CSI

This week, convenience and fuel retailing industry professionals converge in Chicago for the annual NACS Show – a consortium of more than 23,500 industry stakeholders all focused on one goal: growing the convenience channel.

In the last installment of our four-part NACS preview series, we examine some of the future-focused shopper trends and insights that visitors can gain from The Hershey Company’s category management and insights team during the show.

The retail revolution is quickly transforming and reshaping how merchants engage and connect with their customers – and the convenience channel is no exception. When our category and insights team examines how our category intersects with retail and technology trends, recommendations and best practices to elevate both confection and snacking in c-store rise to the surface – but so do insights that can help our retail partners improve sales customer experience throughout the store.

In our NACS Show preview series, we’ve examined the current trends and opportunities for c-store owners who embrace the power of sweet and salty snacks, leverage the Reese’s brand to improve candy aisle engagement and optimize the candy aisle planogram to drive a four-to-six-percent lift in high-velocity instant consumable sales.

Outside of these areas, the next “sweet spot” for c-stores is food service. With an expected growth rate of six percent over the next five years, this category presents the greatest opportunity for the entire channel as the time-starved shopper seeks out convenient meal and snacking solutions. Food service is already evolving to meet these shoppers’ needs, and The Hershey Company is committed to understanding and guiding our retail partners to find confection’s fit to the benefit of the entire category and the overall store.

A recent Hershey Brand Power Research Study[1] revealed that:

  • 76% of shoppers reported they were likely to try a dessert with Hershey-branded ingredients;
  • 45% of consumers are more likely to pay more for a dessert with Hershey-branded ingredients; and
  • 77% of consumers associate Hershey-branded ingredients with higher-quality desserts.

Armed with these insights, Hershey has developed recommendations and best practices to empower our convenience retail partners to tap into the power of our brands to grow and enhance their food service offerings. 

Our recommendations include:

  • Merchandising confection near food service counters is an easily adaptable and natural way to begin building shopper baskets. Iconic brands like Hershey’s and Reese’s have stopping power in c-stores, and in a highly impulsive category, may suggest to your shopper the perfect indulgence to round out his or her meal.
  • Bundling confection and desserts that contain Hershey-branded ingredients, as part of an existing meal deal is another way c-store retailers can win with shoppers. We’ve seen the success of bundling in the European market, where including confection as part of an entree, drink and salty snack creates the perfect complement to a meal.

This year, Hershey’s Food Service counter at NACS will showcase some of the ways Hershey brands can be used to improve the shopper experience. We’ll be sampling our latest food service products, including Jolly Rancher Slushees, Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Cookie Bars and Take5 Crunchy Bars. If you’re at the show, stop by the booth (#4616), taste these these latest food service offerings, and engage our insights team in a conversation about the role Hershey can play in developing customized solutions that improve your overall shopper experience.

[1] Hershey Brand Power Research Study, Ipsos, July 2015