In today’s crowded, ever-changing and fast-paced marketplace, vending and micro market operators find themselves regularly brainstorming ideas about how to compete and stay relevant to the modern consumer. Here are three ways to succeed among a slew of other channels:
1. Provide healthy and organic options.
According to a report from Nielson, food purchases are becoming less driven by what is displayed on the front of the box than what is listed as ingredients. More natural, healthier foods are proving that they are here to stay which should in turn encourage operators to re-think their inventory in order to meet evolving demands and expectations. Higher profit margins are also a selling point for organic snacks. Another report from Nielson found that consumers are willing to pay up to 142 percent more for organic cheese sticks versus conventional cheese.
When starting to incorporate healthy snacks, Michael Ray of Healthy Generation Vending in Houston, TX, suggests offering 10 percent of healthier items and then adjusting to meet demand. In both vending and micro markets, Healthy Generation Vending uses the same process to determine the product mix, relying heavily on customer behavior and feedback. “We try to increase the healthy percentage as much as possible because the demand is there and it’s a market that we do not want to miss. We believe it is the future,” he said.
In particular, Millennial snacking habits have proven to be the main driving-force behind better-for-you snacking that is influencing mainstream American consumers. Responding to Millennials’ desire for healthy snacks, colleges across the country have been re-thinking their traditional vending machine offerings. The University of Nebraska at Kearney has been working to add healthier vending snacks that contain less sugar and fewer calories than typical vending machine options.
2. Stay informed about current nutrition guidelines.
Keeping up with the latest standards for healthy eating will ensure you attract demographics that tend to prioritize nutrition when snacking. Operators can use these guidelines to identify healthier snack and beverage options to offer in their vending and micro market settings.
Perhaps one of the most widely followed guidelines, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s 2015–2020 Dietary Guidelines were designed to help Americans eat a healthier diet. Intended for policymakers and health professionals, this edition offers five overarching guidelines and a number of key recommendations with specific nutritional targets and dietary limits. Operators can use these guidelines to identify healthier snack and beverage options to offer in their vending and micro market settings. Key recommendations include: consuming less than 10 percent of calories per day from added sugars, consuming less than 10 percent of calories per day from saturated fats and consuming less than 2,300 milligrams per day of sodium. Ask distributors and product manufacturers for products that fit these standards or check the NAMA Fit Pick list for specific industry options to meet dietary guidelines.
3. Reevaluate your current inventory.
Space is limited in a vending machine and micro market, which presents a significant challenge when considering adding new inventory. However, by examining your current status quo of products, you can begin the process of providing more options for a wider demographic of consumers. When analyzing the current supply in your vending machine or micro market, consider what products have not been selling and identify where you can incorporate options that will make you stand out as unique. And, possibly most important, be open to eliminating snacks that may be traditional favorites but are no longer quickly moving off the shelves. Given snacking trends, consider replacing what’s not selling with organic, protein-packed snacks opposed to continuing to offer traditional, and often unhealthy, products.
With these tips on incorporating organic, more nutritious options in the vending machine and micro market, operators will be able to compete with other channels for that refreshment dollar.
This content is sponsored by DanoneWave Away From Home’s Horizon® Organic Cheese Snacks. Contact your DanoneWave Away From Home representative to learn more about our organic cheese snacking options. 888.620.9910 | danonewaveawayfromhome.com