2017 NACS Preview



Alan Tobin
Sr. Mgr Category Strategy & Insights

In just a few weeks, professionals in the convenience and fuel retailing industry will 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 this four-part blog series, we’ll delve into The Hershey Company’s consumer-driven insights to surface trends that c-store owners and operators can expect to see, hear and taste when they stop by Hershey’s booth (#4616) at NACS.


2017 NACS Preview: The "Sweet Spot" for

There’s very little room to debate that the needs and desires of the modern shopper have changed. These rapidly evolving preferences are transforming the way the convenience industry approaches both food service and snacking. Today’s shopper is starved for time and demands convenience across all facets of his or her life. This trend comes to bear most prominently around meal-time, with 90% of shoppers reporting they snack multiple times throughout the day, often subsidizing or completely replacing traditional meals with snacks crafted from simple, trusted ingredients.

Snacking in the U.S. is a $100 billion industry and is poised to grow about 2% yearly. In a society where “convenience is king,” convenience stores are poised to reap a significant piece of the snacking pie if they can master the art of delivering what shoppers want, where they want it and when they want it. Hershey’s consumer-driven insights offer convenience store retailers a meaningful look at these what, where and when factors.


Embrace Sweet and Salty

While it’s indisputable that shoppers want easy, on-the-go meal and snacking solutions, convenience store retailers shouldn’t neglect sweet and salty snacks as a real “sweet spot” for customers who name the flavor combination as their No. 1 snacking preference. The predilection for sweet and salty isn’t going anywhere soon – 59% of consumers report they use snacking as an opportunity to indulge. This trend is poised for growth as chocolate snacks continue outpace the growth of both total snacks and store.

At The Hershey Company, this insight tells us that confection is still highly relevant, leading us to product innovations that merge confection and snacking (we call it Snackfection) to leverage the power of our portfolio of iconic brands. At the NACS Show, c-store retailers will have a chance to taste some of our latest Snackfection innovations, including Hershey’s and Reese’s Popped Snack Mixes and Hershey’s and Reese’s Dipped Pretzels. These product innovations have also introduced crunchy textures and a lighter eat – other popular shopper taste preferences – into the snacking continuum, creating opportunities for c-store retailers to capture new snacking users. Against the backdrop of these successful innovations, we continue to develop a pipeline of snacking solutions designed to appeal to shopper’s taste preferences in the future and beyond.

Eliminate the Obstacle Course

Just as the shopper’s snacking preferences are changing, so is the way they shop convenience stores. As the lines between sweet and salty snacks continue to blur, so should the aisles that separate them. Traditionally, sweet and salty items are located across multiple aisles throughout the store. This layout creates obstacles for shoppers looking for specific items and can result in missed opportunities for the retailer to basket build. The Hershey Company has studied the modern shopper’s c-store experience and created an ideal planogram that leverages the power of sweet and salty to place these most-sought-after items in one aisle with sweet snacks on one side, salty on the other, and everything else (think Snackfection) in between. This simple transition allows shoppers to quickly find what they want – where they most expect to find it. It also creates an opportunity to introduce them to other items relevant to their snacking needs and drive incremental sales.


Display for the Whole Day

Finally, c-store retailers should be cognizant that their customer’s snacking preferences change and evolve throughout the day. A snack that might satisfy in the afternoon will differ from a snack that was satiating in the morning. Hershey’s takes great pride in partnering with our c-store partners to examine their shoppers’ snacking patterns and develop customized solutions that leverage front-end displays and planograms that allow them to showcase a variety of snack categories for every daypart to shoppers – ensuring that displays can be shopped throughout the day.


In our next blog in this series, we’ll explore the opportunity chocolate presents to c-store operators and the role power brands like REESE’S can play in driving sales growth. Stay tuned!