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    Healthier Sales

    Manufacturers offer strategies for what works best when it comes to raising the profile — and profits — of better-for-you snacks, both inside and outside the store

    By Bridget Goldschmidt, Stagnito Business Information

    We all know that consumers are increasingly seeking out healthier snacks — that is, if studies like Packaged Facts’ recent “The Future of Eating: Who’s Eating What in 2018?” are anything to go by — but what are the most effective ways to ensure that they’ll find them in the supermarket center store, and once they’ve located them, that they’ll actually buy them?

    First, you’ve got to let them what you’re all about. For Popchips’ inaugural national TV campaign, “The Popchips Way,” which debuted in September, “we’re using veteran comedy writers and … actors from famous improv groups to bring our fun, irreverent and cheeky brand personality to life,” says Marc Seguin, CMO of the San Francisco-based namesake company, which produces chips that are popped with hot air and pressure instead of fried in oil, enabling them “to have all the flavor of a fried chip, but with half the fat,” as he puts it. “The spots will be sure to entertain viewers with hilarious dialogue as they relay key brand messaging.”

    Popchips also recently dropped its first two national FSIs, combined with eFSIs. “We have seen some positive results, including additional displays and partnerships with key retailers to drive additional awareness,” notes Seguin. “As we look to 2015, we have five promotional periods with media support, versus two periods in 2014.” He adds that three new veggie Popchips flavors — hint of olive oil, sea salt and Tuscan herb — have recently rolled out to stores.

    The Right Price

    Austin, Texas-based Rhythm Superfoods, which makes Kale Chips and Superfood Chips, has reduced prices as a way to entice consumers. “We’ve gotten more efficient in how we make the kale chips and, as a result, have been able to reduce the cost to our distributor and retailer partners by about 20 percent,” explains President and CEO Scott Jensen. “The resulting suggested retail price on our kale chips has gone down from $5.99 to $4.99. Not every retailer will be able to get to that lower price (shipping to customers further away from our plant costs more to, say, Florida or Boston, for instance). By lowering our prices, we are making our products more accessible to consumers who are more price-sensitive. We were able to accomplish this by increasing capacity and efficiency on the production end, while at the same time increasing the quality of the product.”

    “For healthier snacks, in-store promotions are very effective,” acknowledges Genelle Chetcuti, director of marketing for San Jose, Calif.-based RW Garcia, whose latest product is Tortatos, the first-ever half-tortilla, half-potato chip, which features 25 percent less fat than traditional potato chips. “With the launch of Tortatos, we worked with our retailers to offer price promotions to encourage initial purchase of the product. We also launched a social networking campaign promoting Tortatos and availability at stores nationwide. Response to both portions of the campaign has encouraged initial and repeat purchase successfully.”

    “We find that selling bars in multiples (two for $3, four for $5 or 10 for $10) from shelf displays drives sell-through and increases awareness,” Paul Pruett, CEO of New York-based Mediterra, whose clean-label offerings, based on the Mediterranean Diet, consist of the first “savory” bars on the market, in varieties such as Tomato/Basil/Capers and Olive/Walnut/Chives, along with Sesame Honey Energy Bars and Yogurt and Oat Bars.

    As “variety is one of the key drivers for all salty snack purchases,” Popchips’ Seguin advises that “providing consumers a way to try/purchase more than one bag per visit is an interesting promotion. Pairing a TPR with feature and display would be the ideal promotional strategy.”

    NuGo Nutrition, meanwhile, doesn’t go in for price reductions, either of the temporary or the permanent kind. “Our strategy has always been exceptional everyday value while highlighting our commitment to ingredients and quality,” says CEO David Levine of the Oakmont, Pa.-based company’s non-GMO protein bars, which he notes are the only such product enrobed in real dark chocolate. “When your bars taste so much better than the competition, there is less reason to reduce retails. Therefore, an everyday value pricing maximizes the sales from the cadre of loyal NuGo consumers.”

    Placed for Success

    Rhythm uses end caps to draw attention to its non-GMO, gluten-free, nutrient-dense, fiber-rich, high-protein items, which include its Original Kale Chip, which Jensen characterizes as being “lightly dressed in sunflower butter, tahini and mild spices,” launching in November, and a limited-edition holiday-themed Cranberry Orange Kale Chip, available starting this month.

    “This placement easily puts our products in front of consumers, giving us more opportunity to introduce our brand and category to people looking for better options,” says Jensen. “Additional great placements are near healthy fresh foods — for example, we often try to place our Kale Chips in or near the produce section near the kale, or on top of the salad bar,” the latter of which, he notes, is “great for hitting like-minded, healthier-focused consumers.”

    “Having additional off-shelf merchandising, like single-serve pop-up bins or racks with share bags, helps to ensure minimal out-of-stocks and drive awareness and trial,” notes Seguin, while Pruett concurs: “Placement of our bars and of our off-shelf displays is critical. Healthy snacks like Mediterra need to be visible in high-traffic areas of the store to drive trial.”

    Matters of Taste

    “Demos also can be a huge help when promoting nutrition bars,” asserts Pruett. “Especially with a new brand, there’s nothing like getting the consumer to taste it.” Mediterra bars recently earned placement at Lakewood, Colo.-based Natural Grocers by Vitamin Cottage, the first large-scale natural retailer to offer them, with 86 stores across 14 states.

    NuGo, which is introducing two new flavors in its NuGo Dark Protein line this month, Dark Spicy Chocolate and Toasted Coconut, also engages in sampling with what Levine describes as “a large team of brand ambassadors.”

    And, in a true case of bringing product to the people, Angie’s Boomchickapop, which recently rolled out Sweet & Spicy and Salted Caramel popcorn flavors, as well as debuting Organic Sea Salt & Vinegar and Organic Maple Sea Salt popcorn varieties at this year’s Natural Products Expo East trade show last month, has hit the road for its first Boom Tour. “The team is currently traveling in a tricked-out, popcorn-loaded, totally fantastical van they’ve affectionately named ShaBOOM to spread the word about better-for-you snacks in time for back-to-school and fall snacking,” notes Joe Driscoll, Angie’s VP of marketing. The eight-week tour started in Chicago and headed for the Northeast before ending up in the Mankato-based company’s home state of Minnesota this month.

    Fans were able to follow the tour’s progress online at www.TheBoomTour.com, and could also enter the Boom Tour Sweepstakes on the Angie’s Facebook page for a chance to win prizes.

    As for promotions timed to roll out in the near future, Coral Gables, Fla.-based Buddy Fruits, whose latest better-for-you product, FruitBreak, is geared toward adult snackers, plans to play up the health angle by encouraging consumers to get fit for the new year. “We’ll be giving away gym memberships every day in January to help shoppers get back on track,” explains VP Marketing & Communications Daniel Connors. “So we’re creating a social media campaign, reaching out to partner with national gym chains (like LA Fitness and 24 Hour Fitness), and we created exclusive POS material for produce buyers to market the promo to their shoppers.”

    Regarding how manufacturers of better-for-you snacks should present their products — and which items retailers should stock in their stores — RW Garcia’s Chetcuti has some incisive advice. “Shoppers are looking for the same bright colors and bold flavors they sought out in less healthier snacks,” she notes. “Colorful packaging and bold flavors must be accompanied by an easy-to-read list of health information, as shoppers are attracted to a company that they feel is being transparent. A shopper wishes to emerge from the supermarket with the feeling that she has made the most informed decisions for herself and her family.”

    To read more, visit PG Web Extra: Healthier Snacking to Come

    By Bridget Goldschmidt, Stagnito Business Information
    • About Bridget Goldschmidt In addition to serving as Progressive Grocer’s Managing Editor, Bridget writes many print and digital features encompassing a range of grocery and fresh categories across the store. Bridget also enjoys on-site reporting assignments at such key industry events as the New York Fancy Food Show and the International Boston Seafood Show, in addition to visiting stores for PG’s prestigious Store of the Month feature. In her years with the magazine, she has developed into a knowledgeable voice on grocery industry trends, sought by such distinguished publications as The New York Times.

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