Sweetening Candy Sales

Mars offers signage and shelving best practices

Published in CSP Daily News

NEW YORK -- If you're like most retailers, your long aisles of candy are highlighted with signage emphasizing a sale price or two-for deal. And this may be exactly the wrong approach to take to sell more candy. Price has a minimal effect on the purchase decision, said Christian Thompson, director of shoppers' insights for Mars Inc. In fact, only one-third of candy shoppers know the price of their item after making their purchase decision, and 75% of shoppers didn't even notice the signage regarding price."

Thompson was the feature presenter during a [image-nocss] recent CSPNetwork CyberConference titled Sweetening Candy Sales. [ Click here to view an OnDemand replay of the CyberConference.]

Over one-third of [consumers] who shop the current candy aisle in convenience stores walk away without making a purchase, Thompson said.

According to Mars Inc. statistics, collected in a partnership with Sorensen Associates, the average candy shopper spends an average 25 seconds shopping the candy section, more than a beverage shopper (19-24 seconds), but well below the time spent shopping for candy across all channels or retail (49-60 seconds).

There is relatively little time available at the shelf to influence the c-store candy shopper, Thompson said. In order to be successful, at-shelf POS and packaging must be concise and illustrative.

For customers surveyed by Hackettstown, N.J.-based Mars who said they planned to purchase candy when they entered the c-store, 43% said the purchase was to satisfy a craving and 40% said they always buy candy during such a trip. On the other hand, 56% of impulse buyers said they just felt like buying candy and 23% said the candy looked good (or) appetizing.

Point-of-sale for consumers shopping the in-aisle location should stimulate consumers' candy craving and signage should be visible from high traffic locations within the store, said Thompson.

The Mars research shows 75% of consumers surveyed did not notice POS signage. Thus, Thompson offered a best-practices checklist for driving impulse purchases:

Signage should be visible as the shopper enters the store.

POS should stimulate a craving.

The POS should drive the shopper to the correct aisle in the store.

Packaging should have stopping power and shelf impact.

Packaging should have strong appetite appeal to convert shoppers to brand.

At-shelf POS should encourage multiple purchases and should be visible on the shelf (not above the shelf).

Finally, Thompson also discussed some of the benefits of Mars' Vertical Vantage shelving design and SKU management program. The shelving unit divides gum and candy vertically rather than the traditional horizontally. And because 29% of consumers who don't make a candy purchase say it's because they can't find the candy they want, Thompson actually encourages retailers to reduce the number of SKUs they have on the shelves.

SKU reduction should have minimal impact on sales and profit, Thompson said. It comes down to simplifying shopping for the purchaser.

He added, however, If you don't have the top SKUs in there, you're leaving money on the table. Keep top-sellers in prime locations, and let the heavy-sellers do the lifting.