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A Deeper Look Into C-Store Sweet Snack Events

The next time you are near the checkout of your convenience store, take a look at the brands and products presented. Better-for-you snacks may be making headway in the food industry in general, but it appears consumers at these stores are looking for something a bit different. Specifically, they may be looking for sweet snacks.

According to General Mills Convenience & Foodservice’s Sweet Snacking Segmentation Survey, c-store consumers are still purchasing sweet snacks at c-stores despite the proliferation of better-for-you snack options. According to the survey:

  • 65% of c-store food and beverage purchases are unplanned and purchased on impulse once seen in the store.
  • 48% of shoppers eat c-store sweet snacks in the afternoon.
  • 14% percent of shoppers eat sweets to satisfy evening or late-night cravings.

It’s no secret that better-for-you snack options are becoming more and more popular. Food manufacturers are honing in on the trend, striving to remove GMOs, artificial colors and more due to consumer demand. Even retailers are jumping into the fray, with the likes of CVS Health Corp. expanding its curated selection of better-for-you food brands presented at checkout lanes. However, it appears c-stores are bucking the trend. According to Kelly Kees, a consumer insights researcher at General Mills Convenience & Foodservice:

“While consumers tend to place more focus on health in this day and age, sweet snacking is not slowing down when it comes to convenience stores…. C-store shoppers still want to indulge and are seeking out sweet treats that deliver on great taste and also have some elements of nutrition, like nut butters, fruit flavors or real foods.”

According to the General Mills survey, consumers bought sweet snacks for three different occasions, including afternoon indulgences, sweet start mornings and anytime munching. These were also broken down further:

  • Afternoon Indulgence is the largest group, representing 70% unit share of scan-able sweet snacks. Afternoon/evening products meet three specific customer needs:
    • Crunchy Chocolatey Nibbling – Mini candies and cookies with a little indulgence
    • PM Chocolate Indulgence – Indulgent candy and packaged bakery that usually includes rich flavors like chocolate and caramel
    • Fruity Candy Craving – Bite-size non-chocolate candy eaten while doing other things
  • Sweet Start Mornings is the second largest group, representing 18% unit share of sweet snacks. AM-focused products meet two specific customer needs:
    • AM Bakery-fresh and Wholesome – Baked goods with homemade cues and at least some nutritional value (e.g., fruit pieces, whole grains, fiber)
    • AM Bakery Indulgence – Bakery-fresh and taste-first sweets that are eaten for enjoyment and on-the-go
  • Anytime Munching is the smallest group within the sweet snacks category, representing 13% unit share of sweet snacks.
    • Snacks within this group can be eaten throughout the day and tend to be more wholesome sweet options. These snacks are not daypart-specific and meet consumer needs for homemade and baked treats with at least some nutrition