Micro Markets: The Fortunate Adventure Continues In 2018

Dec. 20, 2017

There has been much growth in the industry over the last year. A positive up-tick in revenue in all areas has been seen, including vending, micro markets and office coffee service (OCS). What is most exciting is that the worth of the industry is at a seven-year-high — $21.6 Billion — according to the Automatic Merchandiser State of the Industry report. This record breaking revenue is due in large part to the growth and popularity of micro markets. From the rates at which micro markets are expanding, they will continue to play a large part in increased revenue in the coming years.

Micro markets are trending in OCS

Micro markets have reached nearly 18,000 locations across the country and the placements are still increasing. To keep micro markets successful, it's important to also keep them trendy, which means paying attention to what is popular. There is buzz about specialty coffee and single-cup among consumers. Operators have benefited from the popularity of these beverages with record high OCS revenues. Eric Dell, senior vice president of government affairs at NAMA, presented the results of a survey at the Coffee, Tea & Water convention. One such result that Dell cited is that only 29 percent (of operators) offer coffee in their micro markets. A majority of operators, 71 percent, sometimes offer coffee to their micro markets, but this is an opportunity to add more coffee options to micro markets.  There is a rise in not only Millennials in the workplace but also Millennialist thinking; they want to enjoy specialty brands and a coffeeshop feel. Establish with facts the importance of a pantry service to accounts, and make sure someone from the human resources department is part of the conversation because they will be able to attest to why it will be good for their company. Let them do some of the negotiating on your behalf, especially because they're trying to keep their employees happy, too.

During the CTW Conference, Dell also talked about how 29 percent of operator OCS revenues comes from allied products, such as condiments, sugar, snacks, cups, stir sticks, tea and hot chocolate. There are a lot of options available that could drive up the revenue in this category for operators if they make the items available in micro markets. Snack items such as grab and go breakfast items are a great way to go. They are an alluring add-on item that many consumers will pick up if offered along with their morning coffee. Nutritious snacks are also very trendy, such as yogurt and gluten-free items. 

Non-food items are an opportunity

During NAMA's presentation at CTW, the census cited that only 4 percent of items stocked in vending machines are non-food. Dell called this an opportunity to offer more non-food items in vending. The same applies to micro markets. There is an unexplored market for non-edible items in micro markets. Millennials are technology focused. Chargers and mobile-related accessories are must haves. This demographic would gladly pay $10 in the office micro market to replace a broken or lost charger that will keep their phone from going dead. The typical millennial is looking for ease of use, convenience and quick access. That is the definition of a micro market, so the idea of adding non-edible items should simply be intrinsic.

Follow the trends

Food drives people to micro markets instead of vending machines, and represents about 33 percent of micro market revenues. Food trends for 2018 are predicted to include more healthy and natural foods and clean labels, according to the Specialty Food Association. Some healthy foods to think about incorporating into your micro market are fresh fruits and veggies. These don't last long, but they don't need to – they are so popular among Millennials, they will be hard to keep stocked. Consider some of the easy grab and go items that are shelf-stable, but still packed with protein or whole grains. This goes hand in hand with the notion of having healthy food more readily available, because this trend is only growing in popularity.

There's a great lineup of offerings for micro markets in 2018, and research is showing just how likely this channel is to continue doing well. Keep your eyes open, 2018 will be a big year for micro markets.