Tag Archives: micro markets

Fundamentals of Offering Healthier Snacks in Micro Markets

As consumers become increasingly more health conscious, vending and micro market operators are rising to the challenge of finding a variety of quality items to include in their line of SKUs. In fact this year, nutritious snacks, or healthy snacks, constituted two percent of sales by dollar revenue in the vending industry, according to Automatic Merchandiser’s State of the Industry report.

For the roughly 1,000 micro market operators servicing nearly 10,000 locations in the U.S. as reported by the NAMA, better-for-you category growth offerings are not only necessary but essential to capturing the majority of consumers who say they snack at least once per day.

Look at key trends

In 2016, consumers will be more concerned with what’s in their food than what is not, said NPD Group. The micro market consumer is no exception. Lynn Robles, Automatic Merchandiser 2013 Distributor of the Year award recipient, notes that micro market customers are looking for fresh products, so operators should be sure to offer a variety of items that meet that criteria. “Keep it simple,” Robles said. “Start with three to four offerings of key items such as pre-packaged salads, fresh fruit, hard boiled eggs and sandwiches with vegetables.”

‘Fresh’ isn’t the only healthy trend that consumers gravitate towards though.  A growing number of them are moving towards consumption of organic food, with TechSci global market research company estimating the global organic food market to grow at over 16 percent by 2020.

Other key better-for-you growth trends include gluten-free, non-GMO (genetically modified organism), local, simple ingredients, whole-grain and allergen-free. Manufacturers are creating packaged goods that meet the healthy snacking criteria and trends consumers are looking for. Robles recommends offering two to three organic, gluten-free and non-GMO items per market. From there micro market operators should look at offering a non-dairy milk choice, organic juice or lemonades as well as water.

Robles notes that micro markets should have a meal replacement selection such as bars, too. “If operators don’t think these will sell, I point out that this category is one of the largest sections in a convenience store,” she said.

Placement guidelines

Placement of healthy and better-for-you items in a micro market is just as important as the selection of products.

Although micro markets should not be considered the same as convenience stores, Robles recommends presenting healthy item sections similar to the grocery and c-store industry. Healthy, better-for-you items should be highlighted within the markets and displayed in their own section.

Healthy sections can be highlighted through décor such as signage with bright, eye-catching colors and icons that reflect a ‘health-focused’ theme above the shelving or below each rack.

“One of my biggest suggestions is to make sure the section looks top rate!” said Robles. “Don’t mix any traditional vending items in the healthy section; it needs to be a true, dedicated better-for-you area.”

Replace the vending hat

The vending and micro market user experience is fundamentally different; therefore micro marketoperators looking to succeed in that area need to cast their vending hats aside.

Micro markets allow for a much wider selection of items, including better-for-you options unavailable or too large for a vending machine. Micro markets also allow operators the ability to offer items that are of greater perceived value which can then be sold at a higher price.

In order to make the most out of fresh food and healthy items in micro markets, operators should look towards bundling ‘healthy’ item sales such as pairing a better-for-you drink with a healthy snack. Additional business can be captured by offering take-home meals to the micro market customer leaving at the end of the day.

The quality of healthy items has increased since the introduction of micro markets; manufacturers are responding to the consumer demand for health-focused items and micro market operators should as well. Micro market success will come from the quality and the variety of better-for-you options.

Read full article here –>

Appeal to Millennials in Your Micro Market, Without Losing the Boomers

APPEAL TO MILLENNIALS IN YOUR MICRO MARKET, WITHOUT LOSING THE BOOMERS

For micro market operators, it is important to look at the workforce as it evolves. That means balancing product selection and marketing strategies for the 80 million Millennials now making up the majority of the workforce while continuing to appeal to the Baby Boomer generation encompassing the most spending capital.

In many ways, Millennials and Baby Boomers are different in how they shop and determine value, but there are also many sales strategies that work across multiple generations to make today’s diverse work environment a gold mine for the savvy micro market operator.

Appeal To Millennials In Your Micro Market, Without Losing The Boomers

BRAND LOYALTY CONTINUES

Millennials, or those born from the 1980s to 2000s, can be very loyal to brands, similar to the tendency of the Boomer generation, those born from the 1940s to 1960s. A recent survey of 1,300 Millennials by Forbes found the 60 percent of this age group says that “they are often or always loyal to brands that they currently purchase.” Admittedly, Millennials become loyal to a brand differently than Boomers. They seek brands that evoke beliefs and feelings such as trustworthy, transparent, dependable and those that encourage participation. Boomers usually like brands they know and trust, making national, well known brands or popular local names a good bet for popular selections in the micro market.

AIM FOR HEALTHY, HIP PRODUCTS

Convenience foods seem to be coming into a great era as Millennials are willing to increase their spending in this category, says research group NPD. The latest numbers cited by the convenience store industry show Millennials are spending over 11 percent of their food and beverage budget at convenience stores, compared to just 7.7 percent in 2006.

The NPD Eating Patterns in America study further breaks out the product categories seeing the most growth in the breakfast and better-for-you items for both Millennials and Boomers. The popularity of each segment is expected to increase as we enter 2016. Focusing on quality breakfast items such as bars, sandwiches, wraps and bagels in the micro market will encourage both Millennial and Boomer customers to make eating breakfast at work a ritual and increase sales at the micro market.

Healthy eating is another important aspect that crosses generations with Millennials opting for fresher, less processed products such as organic items, as well as those lower in sugar. Boomers are searching for items that can address their lifestyle needs as they age with an interest in nutritional ingredients as well as a focus on foods lower in calories and sugar. Expanding product selections in these areas will meet preferences of both age groups.

USE COUPONS AND SPECIAL OFFERS

Value is another trait Boomers and Millennials share. They both appreciate a good deal. In a multi-generational retail strategies white paper, Synchrony Financial Analytics found that Millennials and Boomers were very similar in their usage of coupons. Both Millennials and Boomers were more likely to purchase a product if they had a loyalty discount or coupon, 66 percent and 63 percent respectively. This suggests micro market promotions involving coupons for a specific product or discount based on loyalty will be effective across multiple generations. In fact, the same research showed that over 60 percent of both groups were likely to take advantage of discount offers.

Both generational groups also do research about product and companies online. According to Synchrony, 81 percent of Boomers and 90 percent of Millennials have researched a product online in the past three months. For micro market operators, this means their Websites must be working properly and have information that allows both groups to make informed decisions. In addition to the company Webpage, Millennials are specifically influenced by social media. Synchrony found that Millennials were more than twice as likely as Boomers to state that they purchased a product after seeing it on social media.

Social media can still drive sales for Boomer as well as keeping brand awareness high. Mobile interconnectivity is another good strategy that will make a micro market more appealing to multiple generations. After all, Millennials are also only slightly more likely to own a digital device than Boomers (97 percent compared to 88 percent), so having an app or mobile promotions/payments will be advantageous to both groups. This includes a seamless transaction that works well and is easy to perform and is secure.

Marketing is an important part of keeping sales high in a micro market, and is therefore an area of focus for micro market operators looking to maximize profits. Trending product brands that appeal to the quest for quality and nostalgia of Baby Boomers as well as the transparency and collaboration desired by Millennials will be top sellers. Coupons and loyalty programs maximize your potential to lure both groups with additional sales as well as well-working mobile connectivity with the micro market. These are great ways to craft a marketing strategy that will appeal to a work environment that spans generations.

Read full article here –>

New Vending Era With Micro Markets

Seattle Visionary Ushers In New Vending Era With Micro Markets

When Jim Brinton, president of Evergreen Vending, felt the impact of the 2008-2009 Great Recession, he was concerned. His 34-year-old vending operation based in Seattle, WA, was weathering the turbulent economic times, but the future didn’t look as bright as the past. His concern deepened as he visited other vending operators around the U.S. in the capacity of NAMA Chairman. “I was feeling the same pain as the operators I was seeing across the country,” he said. With businesses closing or reducing employees, vending locations were disappearing. Wage freezes or reductions were leading to significant decreases in revenue. With no major changes to the vending industry since glass front vending machines and the bill validator, operators found it hard to highlight their service versus their competitor and drive the higher prices they needed to maintain profitability. Many saw a bleak future. However, visionaries see things differently. That is why, despite this time of uncertainty, Brinton decided to launch into a new enterprise that would not only reinvigorate his operation, but the entire industry — micro markets.

Micro markets were a much needed solution to Brinton’s concerns thanks to their ability to attract customers willing to pay higher prices for a greater variety of food as well as meet demands of an increased number of larger locations. In addition, the recovering post-recession economy made it an even more promising time to launch a new workplace refreshment segment.

“I often say the stars aligned,” joked Brinton about how he got into the micro market business. And he also credits it for keeping him in the industry. “I might not be here — my company that is — without micro markets,” Brinton added seriously.

The job he always returned to

Brinton began his vending career in 1976, at age 17. He installed a vending machine in his father’s auto supply store because employees kept enjoying his soda without paying him for it. Once he had one machine, he started looking for other places he could install the venders. When Brinton left for college he turned the business over to his younger brother to run for him. “It wasn’t his passion,” explained Brinton, who had to return to run the company. He grew his business by 250 percent in the next year, organically and by buying a few routes from other operators. Then in 1985, still young and full of too much energy, Brinton decided to also pursue a career in law enforcement with the City of Seattle after the encouragement of some friends. After 10 years, the unpredictability of the job led him back to vending full time. Since then, Evergreen Vending has grown to include 54 routes and 165 employees operating from four different locations throughout Western Washington and Oregon.

An industry is born

After the challenges of the recession, Brinton knew his company’s future had to be different. Probably the biggest change he made, both for his company and the industry, was going into business with another operator on a self-checkout system that did not use RFID tags, but allowed users to scan the existing bar codes on products. Up until that point, the systems marketed to the industry had needed RFID tags affixed to each product which added labor and physical label costs. Brinton thought there had to be another way and placed a few kiosks in locations for testing in 2009…

Read full article here –>