Phil Lempert, retail and food marketing expert, said America’s retail landscape was fast evolving, with traditional supermarkets losing share to other retail outlets like the c-store and store space shrinking.
“We need to look at all these different channels of distribution and look at what snacks mean across the board. Snacks might look very different tomorrow than what they did yesterday – not only the packaging but where it’s sold in store,” he told attendees on Sunday at Snaxpo 2015 in Florida.
In addition, he said larger, traditional outlets were shrinking to about half the original size in many parts of America.
“Stores are getting smaller and stores are different. Gone are the days of a 45,000 square foot supermarket – they’re now about 20,000 square feet…In time, we’re going to go from 12 checkout lanes to maybe one or two. So, how does that leave all of you that might be selling your product at the checkout? Where are you going to sell?”
Make the shift
Lempert said there were plenty of opportunities for snack makers outside traditional supermarket checkout stands, particularly as major chains like ShopRite and Wegmans evolved.
One chance in particular was a fresh format rolling out across America – a merge of retail and restaurant: the ‘grocerant’.
“[Snack makers] need to merchandize better. There’s a Whole Foods in California where they built a bar in front of the dairy section. This is where people go to watch baseball, football, basketball yet they don’t have any snacks in the bar. Sure, you can leave this bar and go and walk over to the checkout, buy snacks and bring them back to the bar, but why not get it there?”
Similarly Mariano’s in Chicago had a barbecue section and ShopRite in New Jersey an oyster bar - more areas that held potential for snack makers, he said.
Another area Lempert said snack makers could capitalize on was e-commerce as more consumers were shopping online for their groceries with short delivery times becoming the norm.
“Grocery delivery is important and it’s important for you to be a part of it. Yes, it’s still in its infancy but Uber and Google are going to be key players in this. Uber now delivers lunch, brunch and dinner… ‘Uber Fresh’ delivers for $12 a sandwich, mashed potatoes and roasted peppers, but I didn’t get a snack. Sometimes they do offer a free chocolate chip cookie but why not have a snack in all Uber deliveries?
“…It’s important to be talking to them,” he said.
Lempert said it was vital for the snack sector to focus on business relationships to secure future success.
“The relationship with retailers is critical – retailers across all channels, including e-commerce – and certainly your consumer. At the end of the day, someone will make a product cheaper than yours; tastier than yours; better than yours, and so that’s where you need your brand. Don’t think about how many times someone buys your product, think about how many times someone tells someone else about your product,” he said.