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While attending a recent ECRM pet conference to source new products, I was pleasantly surprised to find a truly interesting new pet product. Standing in front of me at the Turbine Industries exhibit was an attractive display of hummingbird feeders, reasonably packed, taking up minimal floor space.
I was impressed with both the quality and the pricing for the feeders. The liquid reservoir is glass, which reduces fading and allows for cleaning in the dishwasher. With a competitive retail of $9.99, the test stores were $2 to $5 below the retail price of similar products in pet stores, building supply stores, supercenters, and landscape nurseries in the area — proving that convenience stores don't always have to have the highest prices on the block.
Like all our product tests, products are placed in typical industry c-store locations — not the best performing locations and not the worst, so that the results can be a reference for retailers and distributors to make sound buying decisions. Testing results are reported weekly to ensure proper reporting and all tests, unless specified differently, are based on a 28-day trial period.
In stores, whose identities are kept anonymous, associates are encouraged to make customers aware of the new items.
Due to limited time, because it is a seasonal product, two test stores participated. Location 1, a rural store, completely sold a 12-piece display in less than two weeks, while Location 2, near an interstate exit, sold all but one of its six feeders during the 28-day test period. At Location 1, there were at least two multiple sales. Placement was very visible. Location 1 used a wire spinner close to the front register, while Location 2 placed individual units on the novelty and gift rack.
Additional sales would have been generated if packages of hummingbird feeder mix were included (approximate retail: $1.59), but due to timing (it was late in the season) and not having inventory on hand, the decision was to not include it in the test. There is no doubt in my mind that if introduced early in the year, sales of the mix would be significant. In lieu of feeding mix, a recipe was attached to the feeder. Feeder colors are vibrant yellow and red to attract the birds, thus no food coloring is necessary.
This particular test followed direct-store delivery pricing strategy, generating nearly 35 percent gross margin. With self-distribution or straight grocery delivery, the gross margin increases to even greater percentages.
The enormous pet industry has been somewhat ignored by convenience stores. Twenty years ago, did you believe our industry would sell bottled water, energy drinks and bars, gourmet foods, cappuccino, electronic cigarettes, designer condoms and $5 cigars? Perhaps it's time to add pet products to the mix. Michael Hahn is founder of Diversified Marketing, a convenience store consulting firm specializing in product testing, evaluation and placement. Hahn worked in the c-store industry for nearly 30 years, including owning several stores, working for a 1,500-store chain, and being a category manager, direct-store distributor and broker. For more information, e-mail michael [email protected]. If you are a manufacturer and would like your product tested by Diversified Marketing and reported on in Convenience Store News, contact Don Longo, [email protected].