The CS Products Forecast

What We’re Watching in 2014

Published in Convenience Store Products

By  Abbie Westra, Editor-in-Chief, Convenience Store Products

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Tell Me a Story
Across industries, the conversation around corporate citizenry continues, encompassing everything from sustainability and animal welfare to the treatment of employees. The underlying theme is that consumers want to feel good about where they spend their money. They want a story, a rewarding element as part of the shopping experience. It doesn’t have to be recycling efforts (but it certainly can be), but perhaps getting the founder of your company out in the public eye (such as recent CSP Retail Leader of the Year John MacDougall, who is a regular fixture in his market at stores, charity events and even fun commercials). What’s your company’s story, and how do you tell it?

Smoked Out
The U.S. began its grand experiment of legalized recreational marijuana yesterday, and the entire country is waiting to find out its implications. What it might mean for the c-store industry and tobacco manufacturers is a mystery, but one potential trend is the overlap among marijuana legalization and the e-cig boom. In tandem with the growth of “vaping” has been the use of similar devices with cartridges of liquid cannabis extract. Like e-cigs, they allow for smoke-free consumption, and the cartridges are available in medical marijuana stores and now likely throughout Colorado. Is it an opportunity for retailers in Colorado? A risk with unknown implications? Likely both, and with people lined up in the cold to be among the first to legally buy weed, we’ll know soon enough.

Beyond Mom
Manufacturers and retailers have focused a lot on “mom,” and while this shopper demographic is a crucial one, a number of emerging groups are beginning to gain the attention of research and marketing firms.

According to The Hartman Group, only 30% of U.S. households have kids under 18 anymore, and one-third of households consist of a single person. What’s more, close to 50% of primary shoppers are men and 16% of households are multigenerational.

Yes, moms are still incredibly important, but the incremental opportunities of single-adult households, male-decision-maker households and multigenerational households are quite compelling.

A parallel trend is the ongoing growth of solitary eating. Close to 50% of eating occasions are spent alone. Expect manufacturers to spend more time on this opportunity in 2014.

Fun Times
In 2013, we witnessed the emergence of the Cronut, the extension of Doritos Locos Tacos at Taco Bell and the sriracha craze come to a climax as a shortage looms. We walked the NACS Show floor and saw crazy flavor combinations and fun campaigns reflecting companies that don’t take themselves too seriously. Consumers, particularly millennials, are adventurous. They like irreverence, brands that are honest, humble, human. Mobile wallets, Google Glass, Amazon drones—forget e-cigarettes; our entire consumer culture is a wild West. For as unknown as many things are, it’s also an incredibly fun time to be a consumer, and retailers and manufacturers should ride the wave.

 

 

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By Abbie Westra, Editor-in-Chief, Convenience Store Products
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