Keeping up with consumer preferences in the c-store industry is a full-time job — especially coming out of the pandemic.
To save you time and energy, we dove into our c-store data and found seven products that consumers are crazy about right now.
Without further ado, here are some of the best products to stock up on heading into the summer.
1. Kinder Bueno
Image credit: Kinder
Why stock up on Kinder?
Created by the Italian confectionery company Ferrero, Kinder has been a leading brand internationally for decades. In the U.S. market, however, the Kinder brand is relatively new, with Kinder Joy hitting shelves in late 2017, followed by Kinder Bueno two years later.
Mary Trinko, senior client success manager for us at Koupon, talked about Kinder’s hot streak on a recent episode of our podcast How Convenient. “I think they did a lot of things right,” Trinko said. “Predominantly, being different.”
Kinder Joy, for instance, comes in an egg-shaped package that includes a toy. As Trinko says, “You not only get the joy of chocolate, but then the joy of a toy, which I think is really something that resonates with folks, that whole two-in-one special without even asking for it.”
Plus, Kinder has been very strategic in terms of shelf space, incentivizing prime placement by partnering with retailers and providing promotional dollars — ultimately making its products valuable not only to the end consumer but for the retailers as well. “You’re getting what you need to be supported,” says Trinko about stocking up on Kinder.
2. Red Bull
Image credit: Statistica
Why stock up on Red Bull?
Energy drinks remain the top-selling beverage category in c-store, posting $9.2 billion in sales in 2020. And as you can see above, Red Bull continues to dominate the category, capturing five of the top ten spots in per-unit sales last year.
Plus, energy drinks are one of those products uniquely ingrained into daily routines, with many consumers habitually stopping at the same store, at the same time, to grab the same pick-me-up — making energy drinks highly valuable from a loyalty perspective.
And consumers continue to buy Red Bull despite its premium price tag. Monster, Rockstar and Bang, all increased promotional values post COVID while Red Bull held steady. This means that there was actually a net decrease in price when promotions and discounts were factored in for all brands except Red Bull. Yet they still held onto the top position in terms of units sold.
As for particular flavors, there are a few that are growing faster than others. Sales of Red Bull Zero, for instance, grew 11% in 2020, Red Bull Blue was up 17%, and last year’s Summer Edition flavor, Watermelon, was so popular that Red Bull moved it into the permanent lineup.
This year’s summer flavor, Dragon Fruit, was released April 26, 2021, and seems to have similar potential. According to a recent review in Delish, it’s “the adventure you didn't know your tastebuds needed.”
3. Trolli Crunchy Crawlers
Image credit: Trolli
Why stock up on Trolli’s?
For starters, the non-chocolate candy market in the U.S. is poised to reach $12 billion by 2023. And gummies are leading the charge, especially in c-store.
Julia Kops, senior category analyst, Perfetti Van Melle USA, says gummies are “the fastest-growing confectionery segment in convenience, up 7% vs. a year ago.”
And Tim Lamanno of Haribo says the gummy segment accounts for 87% of non-chocolate category growth within convenience stores, citing IRI data for the 12 weeks ending Aug. 9, 2020.
Trolli has also been at the helm of the gummy category for decades, having introduced the now-iconic gummy worm over 30 years ago. Crunchy Crawlers, which pair the usual gummy texture with a crunchy candy shell, are their newest innovation, winning the “Best in Show” Most Innovative Product Award at the National Confectioners Association's (NCA) 2019 Sweets & Snacks Expo.
According to our c-store data, the product has gone from selling zero to hundreds of units per month on a per store basis over the past six months.
Image credit: Good2Grow
Why stock up on Good2Grow?
Good2Grow juice is another great product for c-stores to stock up on right now. The juice category as a whole is on a hot streak, with sales up 2% in 2020, a similar growth rate to bottled soda, and we’re seeing that trend continue in 2021.
Similar to Kinder, Good2Grow carved out a space for themselves by including a toy, uniquely built into the packaging of the product. But they’ve taken it a step further, forging licensing deals with Marvel, Disney, Nickelodeon, Hasbro and more. To top it off, their packaging is reusable with specially designed no-spill spouts, perfect for on-the-go c-store families.
Good2Grow has also positioned themselves as a better-for-you option, stating on their website: “Our 100% Juice is an excellent source of Vitamin C and contains ¾ cup of fruit. And with no added sugar, no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives, our non-GMO juices are nothing but wholesome nutrition for kids, it’s as simple as that.”
One mom of young children captured the value of this in the c-store channel saying, “On a long car trip, the last thing I want is to be stuck in a car with two children who just ate an oatmeal cream pie and drank a Pepsi. Sugar highs and car seats do not mix well.”
5. Old Trapper Beef Jerky
Image credit: Old Trapper
Why stock up on Old Trapper?
Sales of Old Trapper beef jerky are up 29% across our panel of c-stores, well ahead of the alternatives snacks category where it resides. The category, which includes meat snacks, energy bars, and granola/fruit snacks, finished 2020 with same-store sales up 6% year-over-year.
Meat snacks have traditionally accounted for the majority of the category’s sales and 2020 was no different. NielsenIQ data shows a 10.7% increase in sales and a 4.9% rise in units of meat snacks. Some of this growth can be attributed to innovation, with NACS pointing to different flavor profiles, such as sweet and spicy or teriyaki, as examples.
High protein meat snacks like Old Trapper also fit into the better-for-you trend. Lance Smith, vice president of industry affairs and customer strategy for The Promotion In Motion Companies Inc. told NACS that, “There is a growing appetite among c-store shoppers for alternative snacks, with 50% claiming that better-for-you options are important when choosing a c-store.”
Image credit: Takis
Why stock up on Takis?
Like Old Trapper, Takis are bucking their own category in terms of sales. Snacks and chips took a bit of a hit last year in c-stores as consumers bought them in larger sizes to eat at home. But not Takis… Sales of the spicy tube-shaped chips are up 11%.
This likely speaks to the spicy food trend that’s been taking the snack industry by storm for years. According to NACS, the top salty snack flavor remains hot and spicy. “Spicy flavors are popular, especially those with an international taste,” said Jayme Gough, an analyst for NACS.
Hot and spicy chips are a hot commodity at Callihan’s Corner Store, in Nova, Ohio as well. “We sell a lot of the hot and spicy salty snacks because it seems everyone wants a little kick to their chips,” shift leader Garrett Merle said.
7. White Claw
By now, everyone knows that hard seltzer is having a moment, seeing 146% growth on a sales per store basis in 2020. And while White Claw’s market share is actually down from an astonishing 81% in 2019, sales are up 33.9%.
Kevin Doherty, our senior data analyst, explains that this is due to the expansion of the category as a whole. “Although they don’t have as big a piece of the pie,” he says, “the pie is bigger.”
So heading into summer, you can expect White Claws to continue flying off the shelves. As for what varieties to stock up on, the brand just released a few new flavors for 2021 including Strawberry, Pineapple and Blackberry.
They’re available in White Claw’s Hard Seltzer Variety Pack Flavor Collection No. 3. alongside fan-favorite, Mango. Variety Pack Flavor Collection No. 3 joins Collections No. 1 and No. 2, the top-selling SKUs in hard seltzer.
In addition to new flavors, White Claw is also introducing a new product with a higher ABV and a larger size — White Claw Hard Seltzer Surge. At 8% alcohol in a 16 oz. can, Surge is only available in two flavors: Blood Orange and Cranberry.
Depending on your customer base, this could be a good product to stock up on as well. "We know some consumers are looking for a higher alcohol option from White Claw, and that's what White Claw Hard Seltzer Surge delivers," said John Shea, Chief Marketing Officer, White Claw Hard Seltzer, US.
Running a c-store? See how Koupon helps c-stores grow
Consumer behavior is transforming, challenging c-store retailers to grow and adapt. At Koupon, we provide the technology you need to reach shoppers, create data-informed strategies, and drive loyalty.
And no matter where you are in your digital transformation for your c-store, we have the solutions you need to grow. We can help you:
- Make data-driven decisions: Evaluate consumer patterns across products, stores, and channels. We’ll help you use these insights to benchmark, adjust and launch strategic data-driven campaigns.
- Collaborate with CPG brands to drive loyalty: Attract incremental promotion dollars, funded entirely by leading CPG brands. You can launch these promotions across your own channels and grow sales.
- Drive shopper engagement: Reach new shoppers beyond your current loyal base and gain a greater share of wallet from existing customers. Digital promotions help increase basket size and drive store trips.
- Simplify promotion execution: Don’t stress over the details. Our team takes care of it all, from offer set up to post-campaign analysis, and everything in between.
Our solutions grow with you. So whether you’re just getting started or fully accelerating, we can help. Get in touch to learn more!