Micro markets are one of the hottest segments in the vending industry today. Operators are focusing more and more energy on the implementation of these exciting new business ventures. Automatic Merchandiser has written 15 articles dealing with them in the past year and they have their own online channel on VendingMarketWatch dedicated just to micro market news and information.
Because of this need to understand the micro market platform, it is no surprise that at this year's NAMA OneShow, there was a lot of educational sessions dedicated to micro markets. Brad Bachtelle, owner of Bachtelle and Associates, delivered a full day seminar on newly harvested industry data about trends, challenges and opportunities for micro market operators. The following day was a Q&A with the micro market leading suppliers, immediately after an additional educational session led by Bachtelle about micro market metrics and product sales. However, learning about how to manage micro markets didn't end at the sessions. There was also plenty of information to be gained on the trade show floor.
General Mills offered category management
Mark Kelley, Western regional sales manager for General Mills in Portland, Ore. has been instrumental in the advocacy of micro markets and the implementation of merchandising strategies. He shared his ideas with attendees at this year's trade show. “I’ve always wanted to bring category management into vending,” Kelley said. With the advent of micro markets, now he finally can.
Micro markets have given operators the opportunity to bring new, robust product offerings to the vending segment, Kelley believes. For years, operators have been confined to limited price points and product types due to the perception of customers and size of vending machines. Micro markets are a way to expand on both. “It will allow us to spread our wings and show some innovation from the stand point of what products could be developed for this specific segment now that it’s gaining traction,” Kelley said.
One segment Kelley talked about at the OneShow is the breakfast category. Vending operators had a limited selection of breakfast style snack foods, but micro markets have opened the door to more options. “Instead of stopping at the quick-serve restaurant or c-store on the way to work, we’re hoping that consumers will be able to embrace the same food opportunities in the micro market segment,” Kelley said. “We want to give the consumer a feeling that when they get to work there will be a good selection of breakfast options for them. We’re opening up what we think will be another eating occasion that vending never had before.”
Micro market product management Website
Beyond the OneShow, there are other ways to stay informed about the trends in micro market products. As a way to ensure operators could make informed decisions, General Mills created a Website dedicated to micro market product category management. “It’s a place where operators can go and really get into the information and get some guiding principles on how to merchandise those markets and unveil themselves to the profit potential that’s there,” Kelley said.
The site allows operators to learn about merchandising, which products they should stock and even research category management for specialty markets. The site also contains tools such as planograms and ranking reports.
Consumers are truly appreciative of having micro markets on site, reports Kelley, so it's no wonder this vending industry venture is growing.