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In order to give 2012 NACS Show attendees the opportunity to streamline their time at the show, Convenience Store News asked some leading convenience store suppliers to preview their featured products/services and highlight show expectations.
Altria Group Distribution Co. (AGDC)
The annual NACS Show provides Altria Group Distribution Co. (AGDC) the opportunity to reinforce its benefit to retailers as a single source for tools, information and resources across multiple tobacco categories, according to the company.
At the show, AGDC will be featuring its two cutting-edge technology tools for retailers, CATMAN and Insightsc3m.com. Along with the resources that AGDC has to offer retailers, the booth also will feature the brands and equity of Marlboro, Black & Mild, Copenhagen and Skoal, and focus on some of their latest product offerings.
Marlboro will be featuring its Marlboro Eighty- Threes, Marlboro Black and Marlboro NXT products, as well as highlighting the new Marlboro Brand Architecture and supporting retail look. Copenhagen will feature its new Long Cut Southern Blend and its fast-growing Long Cut Wintergreen and Wintergreen Pouches, in addition to other products in the family. Skoal will feature its new innovation, Skoal ReadyCut, along with Skoal X-TRA products.
Lastly, Black & Mild will feature its new untipped cigarillo, Black & Mild Jazz, in the Aroma Wrap foil pouch. Black & Mild Jazz builds on the introduction of the Sweets, Classic and Wine cigarillos launched in 2011, the company noted.
The Coca-Cola Co.
During the 2012 NACS Show, The Coca-Cola Co. will demonstrate how it helps retailers "Open Up the Opportunities" in multiple ways "by engaging shoppers around the store and around the clock," according to Ira Gleser, vice president of industry communications for Coca-Cola Refreshments.
During its participation in educational sessions (a new study by the NACS/Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council will provide insights into what motivates shoppers to spend more money in c-stores), as well as through individual booth meetings with customers, the company plans to demonstrate how it can deliver new value and excitement to convenience retailers for 2013.
Some of its featured c-store initiatives will include Coca-Cola Freestyle and Club Coke. Available to select convenience retailers, the Freestyle machine delivers 100-plus brands including more than 50 non-carbonated beverages, more than 70 low-calorie choices, more than 90 caffeine-free choices and 80-plus unique brands. Club Coke, meanwhile, is a partnership to help independent operators maximize their non-alcoholic beverage business in every area of their store.
The Coca-Cola Co. will also showcase a variety of new products to help retailers take advantage of beverage trends. For example, new Fuze tea and juice drink flavors being introduced include Lemon Iced Tea, Honey and Ginseng Green Tea, and Half Iced Tea & Half Lemonade. A full offering of fountain and bottle/can package options will be available by the end of the year.
For the fast-growing protein drink category, Core Power, made from fresh, low-fat, lactose-free milk and real honey, comes in five flavors including chocolate, vanilla, honey, light chocolate and light strawberry banana.
In coffee, Georgia Coffee enables retailers to consolidate their beverage ordering with one provider. The program uses customers' existing coffee brewing equipment or a Bunn ITCB digital brewer that produces 64 ounces of fresh brew.
Eco-Cigs Inc. is bringing to the NACS Show its new, patent-pending Tip- Rechargeable E-Cigarette. It is said to be a simple and easy rechargeable option priced in the disposables range, and one that is expected to add value to the explosive electronic cigarette category.
"Our goal is to get good, affordable e-cigs in as many smokers' hands as possible," said Steve Glasberg, vice president of operations for Eco-Cigs. "As the industry matures, it's about quality as much as price."
Eco-Cigs has a complete line of e-cigarette products within all three segments of the business -- rechargeables, disposables and refills -- so retail customers can not only gain e-cigarette users, but also retain them with a significant incremental sales opportunity, according to Glasberg. The company boasts "attention- getting packaging and graphics" to clearly communicate quality products to consumers.
"We are the innovators in Tip-Recharging and provide our retail customers with focused support and a profit-oriented program based on volume," he added. As a NACS Show newbie, the company is excited about meeting many new retailers and learning about their needs, while providing them with category information and sharing insights on business growth strategy and tactics.
The General Mills Convenience category approach to total store growth will be its show focus this year, with category insights and best practices as well as sampling being offered at four stations: salty snacks, sweet snacks, breakfast and "better-for-you" snacks.
"We believe that executing sound category management practices at the store level will be the key factor for whole-store growth in the coming years," said Bryan Smith, associate channel manager, General Mills Convenience.
New products being showcased include Gardetto's Sandwich Crackers, Chex Mix Muddy Buddies Snickerdoodle, Betty Crocker Sweet Rewards Bites, Betty Crocker Sweet Rewards Cookie Bars, Nature Valley Protein bar, Nature Valley Energy bar and Larabar Uber bar.
The company also will be offering Yoplait yogurt samples for the first time this year at the show, in light of the growing consumer interest in better-foryou options in c-stores, according to Smith. Lucky the Leprechaun will be a booth attraction, too.
The best thing about the NACS Show for General Mills Convenience is "the opportunity it provides us to have meaningful conversations with so many retailers on how to grow their key center-store categories through smart category management decisions," Smith said. "This year, we are taking a 'laser-focused' approach on how to grow categories with the right combination of merchandising, store placement and new product decisions for the category."
J&J Snack Foods Corp.
J&J Snack Foods is emphasizing its branded niche snack foods and beverages in a convenient grab-and-go format. With a sustained focus on product development, J&J Snack Foods has developed more products to meet consumer demand for tasty and portable foods, according to a company spokesperson.
At this year's event, J&J Snack Foods is featuring its new full line of Stuffer Products: New Tater Stuffers, O'Brien Tater Stuffers, New Supreme Stuffers and New Sweet Stuffers. It is also introducing Kim & Scott's Gourmet Pretzel Line, an all-natural line made with premium ingredients. Twisted by hand and made from scratch, the line features three varieties of individually wrapped pretzels.
Mars Chocolate North America
At the 2012 NACS Show, Mars will be featuring an expanded lineup of seasonal candy since a growing trend for c-stores is seasonal confectionery sales, said Larry Lupo, vice president of sales for the convenience and drug channels.
"Once almost non-existent in c-stores, seasonal candy is now showing impressive sales gains due to manufacturers creating the right impulse products in the right sizes for the convenience store consumer," he explained.
Additionally, the Mars exhibit booth will feature some new in-store secondary displays. C-store shoppers move through the store and make buying decisions in seconds. By having second, third and fourth interruption point opportunities for sales on high-margin, highhousehold penetration items, the convenience store operator has a big opportunity for a larger, more profitable ring, according to Lupo.
Combining the strength and recognition of its iconic brands with trends in the marketplace, featured products at the show will include Combos 7 Layer Dip Tortilla, Dove Mint & Dark Chocolate Swirl, Dove Silky Smooth Cookies and Crème, M&M'S Chocolate Bar, Snickers Bites, Milky Way Bites, a limited-edition Milky Way French Vanilla and Caramel Bar, and a limited- edition Color Blend for M&M'S Milk Chocolate Candies and M&M'S Peanut Chocolate Candies.
New seasonal candy from Mars includes a variety of flavors and shapes. Mars relaunched its 1.1-ounce Singles Shapes portfolio in 2012, meant to be ideal for c-store shoppers. This includes three new items for Christmas: Snickers Nutcrackers, Snickers Peanut Butter Santas and Milky Way Simply Caramel Snowmen.
New for Valentine's Day 2013 will be Snickers Heart Singles and Milky Way Simply Caramel Heart Singles, as well as new gifting options from M&M'S and Dove Chocolate. New Easter 2013 items include Snickers Eggs 2 To Go, Snickers Peanut Butter Eggs 2 To Go, Twix Minis Filled Eggs, M&M'S Milk Chocolate Fun Size Filled Gift Box, Dove Silky Smooth White Chocolate Eggs and Dove Silky Smooth White Chocolate Solid Bunny.
NJOY said it will launch its newest and "most innovative product to date," NJOY Kings, at this year's NACS event. The company is touting NJOY Kings as a "game-changer" for the electronic cigarette category because "it provides the look, feel and taste of a traditional tobacco cigarette, but with all of the benefits that go along with smoking an electronic cigarette," according to a company spokesperson.
He explained that NJOY Kings is nearly identical to a cigarette in length, weight and feel and features a "master-blended" flavor profile. For the packaging, NJOY Kings has integrated the cigarette and packing in an innovative "Flip-Top Pack," with the intent of making it easy and fun to carry/open the e-cigarette.
According to the spokesperson, "NACS is the biggest trade show for our company and our expectation of this year's show exceeds that of years past due to the unveiling of this revolutionary new e-cigarette that has to be seen and tried to be believed."
Reynolds American Inc.
At the booth of Reynolds American Inc., parent company of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. and American Snuff Co., the focus at NACS Show 2012 will be on its "Transforming Tobacco vision," specifically in terms of innovation, the road ahead and connecting directly with retail partners, according to Mike Auger, R.J. Reynolds' vice president of trade marketing development.
At the show, the company will be showcasing the growing product lines of American Snuff Co. and Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. For example, American Snuff's Grizzly brand recently introduced new packaging to better convey the premium quality and value of its styles.
"This year, it's more about continuing down the path of innovation we've already started," stated Auger. "We're companies that are forward-looking and innovating in order to meet the expectations of and redefine enjoyment for adult tobacco consumers. There are many examples to point to, and there's much more to come."
Auger cited R.J. Reynolds' innovative capsule technology in its Camel Menthol products and the expansion of its Camel Crush line with Camel Crush Bold. R.J. Reynolds' Pall Mall cigarette brand continues its growth as well, expanding its menthol offerings with Pall Mall Menthol Black and Pall Mall Menthol White styles. Additionally, Camel SNUS's Mint style just became available to all 50 U.S. states.
The best thing about the NACS Show for the Reynolds American companies is that "it's the one opportunity for us, at a national level, to spend time with so many of our retail partners and just talk," Auger said. "We bring the right players to the event. There's a combination of marketing leadership, trade leadership and executive leadership."
He added that at NACS, "we're ready to talk about the road ahead, both for our retail partners' businesses and the tobacco category -- including how best to be a part of the Transforming Tobacco vision."
Rudolph Foods Inc.
Rudolph Foods is having a great year in the convenience channel, displaying double-digit growth, according to Mark Singleton, vice president of sales and marketing. For one, pork rinds "are a huge item in the channel, and we are a top five SKU in some markets."
At this year's NACS Show, the company will focus on showing retailers how innovative rack designs and new flavors can drive sales in their stores, and in turn, increase their bottom line.
Rudolph Foods is also relaunching Gaslamp Popcorn, a California-based popcorn brand now available from Rudolph in all-natural kettle corn, cinnamon caramel corn and white cheddar cheese popcorn varieties. Ready-to-eat popcorn has been the fastest-growing segment of the popcorn market overall, according to Singleton, "which is why we are so excited to relaunch Gaslamp Popcorn this year," he said. With three distinct and reformulated flavor options, "it's a great item that is hundreds of years old that has been brought back to a new group of consumers…For a couple of bucks, we can really make someone's day."
He views the NACS Show as "a great opportunity to see all of the major retailers in the category and meet with them to hear their challenges and how we can help."
Swedish Match will feature its full line of other tobacco products and all key brands within its portfolio at this year's show. This includes White Owl, Garcia y Vega and Game cigars; Red Man Chew; and Timber Wolf, Longhorn and Red Man Moist Snuff. It will also feature its General Snus, which is produced in Sweden and distributed worldwide.
Among its latest product launches are White Owl Silver Cigarillos and White Owl Black Cigarillos, "which continue to sell well beyond our expectations," reported David Price, vice president of marketing. In addition, its latest natural leaf offerings include Game Silver Cigarillos and Game Black Cigarillos, "which have delivered record growth in our unflavored natural leaf cigarillo portfolio," according to Price.
General Snus, which Price touts as "the world's best-selling snus," began distribution in the United States in 2010. "We continue to methodically grow its distribution throughout the U.S. with a heavy investment behind consumer awareness, direct-to-consumer marketing and retail execution," he said. "Snus is, and will continue to be, a major focus area for Swedish Match. "
The way Price sees it, the best thing about the NACS Show is "the ability to meet with so many of our customers in one place under one roof." He noted that "there are very few opportunities throughout the year for us to spend quality time with our customers outside of the office. This gives us the opportunity to share new product launches, as well as jointly develop mutually beneficial strategies with our key customers."