Quinoa anyone? A grain/seed from South America, Quinoa is an emerging consumer trend as it is both nutritious (high in protein and fiber) and gluten-free (a new buzz phase). There aren’t a lot of single-serve products out there with Quinoa yet, but there are a few, including granola-type snacks and single-serve breakfast entrees. However, Quinoa has been flagged as an emerging food trend and micro market operators need to be aware of it. Why? Well, for one thing, because they are retailers now, not just snacks providers.
Being a retailer
The idea that micro markets are more like retail stores is obvious from the first glance. There are shelves of products ranging in size and variety. And one of the core tenements of a retail store is to keep things fresh. That means, among other things, following consumer trends, no matter where they take you – gluten-free, organic, low carb, etc. They will never make up your core products, but are the extra products you try at various locations or replace the slowest sellers with. This drives variety and a new look/feel as well as increasing the traffic to the market.
Part of merchandising
Quite honestly, I didn’t come up with this idea. Brad Bachtelle of Bachtelle and Associates mentioned it in passing while giving his presentation at the Illinois NAMA micro market seminar and it struck a chord. So often, as vending operators, consumer product fads didn’t/don’t affect us. Often the product wasn’t/isn’t available in a size and price point appropriate for a vending machine. Or vending distributors didn’t carry it. Or the craze was limited to a demographic group that just wasn’t the typical vending customers.
Obviously, I am not talking about how vending was used to test new products among a diverse audience, I’m talking about consumer driven fervor, like coconut water, a huge seller in micro markets. Bachtelle suggested, strongly, that operators start looking at these emerging product preferences. The reports are there, often in the grocery or convenience store channels, and often can be found on VendingMarketWatch.com too. These new products will keep the consumer coming back again and again, looking for that unique snack they just saw on the news or read about online.
While quinoa might not be the next top selling candy bar, I find it eye-opening that even my husband correctly pronounces it “keen-wa.” It is gaining popularity and becoming mainstream, and it’s considered a superfood. That is a perfect combination for an up and coming food trend. These are the types of food at least that micro market operators need to watch for and consider in their merchandising line-up.