There were few surprises in the 2008 Automatic Merchandiser Readers’ Choice Awards, as established name brand products maintained their dominance. The contest, now in its 15th year, demonstrates the challenge that product manufacturers face in trying to gain market share in the vending channel, where established products supported by consistent marketing and advertising can maintain their dominance over a long time period.
This year’s competition featured no first time winners, except for the new product category, which is designed to spotlight a new winner. All other winners were repeat winners.
Masterfoods USA’s Snickers Bar reclaimed its perennial title in the candy category, having been displaced for the first time in 2007 by its long-time rival, M&M’s Peanut. Snickers Bar and M&M’s Peanut have long been neck and neck for the top spot in the candy segment.
Snickers Bar was runner up in 2007, the only year it did not take first place, while M&M’s Peanut has been the runner up in many years.
Sales data from Management Science Associates (MSA) Inc., which is based on machine-level reports from more than 50,000 vending machines nationwide, reflects similar results. According to the most recent Vendscape report from MSA, Snickers Bar leads the whole candy/snack/confection segment with 4.83 percent dollar market share while M&M’s Peanut follows with 4.49 percent.
The Readers Choice awards are based on votes faxed, mailed or emailed to Automatic Merchandiser from readers. Readers are asked to vote for their best selling, most profitable and most requested products.
The competition continues to field more nominations each year. In the past five years, most nominations were made via email than were physically mailed or faxed. Automatic Merchandiser attached mail-in and fax-in ballots to its January issue. Readers were also able to cast ballots on the magazine’s Website.
Snickers Bar was not the only long-time winner to regain its championship status this year. Coca Cola Classic, which was upset by Pepsi Cola’s Mountain Dew last year, reclaimed its top spot in the beverage segment. Mountain Dew was runner up.
Coca Cola Classic has been the most frequent champion in the beverage competition, having been displaced only sporadically by Pepsi Cola and Mountain Dew. Coca Cola Classic remains the top brand at retail as well, according to data from Beverage Digest, a beverage industry newsletter that tracks beverage trends.
Famous Amos Chocolate Chip Cookies was one of two return winners from 2007 and remains one of two category leaders to claim top cookie honors for 14 out of the contest’s 15 years. The other is Snickers Bar in the candy segment.
Famous Amos Chocolate Chip Cookies has won top cookie honors every year except for 2004, when it was unseated by Masterfoods USA’s Cookies&.
This year’s other return winner is Cloverhill Bakery’s Big Texas Cinnamon Roll, which took top honors for the fourth consecutive year. Cloverhill’s Jumbo Glazed Honey Bun took runners up honors this year, the first time the company has grabbed both first and second place.
Frito-Lay Nacho Cheese Doritos took the top prize in the salted snack competition, having been runner up in both of the previous two years. This marked the second time Nacho Cheese Doritos took top honors, the first time being in 2002.
Planters Peanuts from Kraft Vending & OCS was runner up in the salted snack contest, having won top honors in 2007. This year’s winner and runner up shared runner up honors in 2006 in the salted snack category.
Pierre Foods’ Big AZ Beef Charbroil with Cheese took top honors in the food segment for the fourth time since 1998, having placed second in 2007. This year, Big AZ Beef Charbroil with Cheese traded places with White Castle Cheeseburger for the first and second spots.
Kraft Vending & OCS’s Oreo Cakesters won the new product competition. This product was nominated in three different categories: new products, pastries and cookies.