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    Turning Up the Heat With Hot Spots

    Mars Chocolate/Wrigley study shows how c-stores can boost candy sales.

    By Angela Hanson, Convenience Store News

    HACKETTSTOWN, N.J. -- Which product categories belong at the front end of a convenience store? Which merchandising elements are most effective? What are the locations of "hot spots" inside a c-store? These are just a few of the questions answered in the Mars Chocolate/Wrigley C-Store Front End Best Practices Study, the results of which were shared with Convenience Store News.  

    "We learned that in c-stores, only one in three shoppers buy items at the front end, and most of them purchase tobacco and lottery tickets," Larry Lupo, vice president of sales for the convenience and drug channels, Mars Chocolate North America, told CSNews. "We wanted to determine which categories — in addition to these destination categories — would be the 'power categories' to generate the most sales and profitability."

    The study showed power categories in the convenience channel include candy, meat snacks, sweet snacks, energy shots, fresh fruit and bakery. The research also found that most consumers' "gaze time" occurs between the register and the card swipe.

    Hot spots are high-priority locations inside a store where it's possible to use high-visibility secondary displays to interrupt routine shopping behavior and significantly increase basket penetration to grow category and brand sales.

    "The biggest purchase barrier is that shoppers simply aren’t thinking about confections, and they don’t see it in the store," Lupo explained. More than 70 percent of consumers don't walk down the candy aisle, and more than three-quarters of consumer buying decisions are made at the point-of-purchase.

    While customers may not go out of their way to buy candy, research shows that confectionery is extremely responsive to quality merchandising efforts, likely because 83 percent of candy category purchases are impulse purchases. Chocolate, in particular, generates high lift in response to secondary merchandising.

    "That’s why secondary displays are so important," Lupo said. "When consumers see confections, they’re more likely to buy them."

    By Angela Hanson, Convenience Store News
    • About Angela Hanson Angela Hanson is associate editor for EnsembleIQ's Convenience Store News and Convenience Store News for the Single Store Owner, where she is responsible for primary coverage of the candy, snacks and packaged beverages categories. Since joining CSNews as assistant editor in early 2011, she has played a key role in helping CSNews.com maintain its position as the No. 1 news source for the convenience store industry. Prior to joining CSNews, Hanson served as junior editor at Creative Homeowner book press and as managing editor of Anime Insider magazine. She has degrees in creative writing and visual communication technology from Bowling Green State University.

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