Dairy Products in Convenience Stores a Good Choice

The promise to an ancient people was that they would enter a land flowing with milk and honey.

While those ancient people eventually did move into their promised land, the idea of finding convenient access to milk (and other dairy products) is enticing — to people of all generations.

We at Schubert Equipment Sales will explore the marketing of dairy products in convenience stores and how to improve sales.

Researcher Mary Chapman told Convenience Store Decisions that nearly three-quarters of consumers tend to buy ice cream from a convenience store “occasionally,” or at least once every three months.

“Most of those snack options are most often consumed mid-evening and at retail,” she said. Chapman is senior director of product innovations for Chicago-based research firm Technomic Inc.

Nearly half of those surveyed said they buy frozen ice cream snacks from convenience stores. Some researchers and industry leaders added that smaller items typically outsell larger and less expensive ones, such as the half-gallon and gallon ice cream containers.

The Sweet Spice of Life

Providing a variety of ice cream flavors tends to boost sales, researchers have noted. Some new products that are getting attention from ice cream lovers include: Lemon Bliss (Blue Bell Creameries); Fireside S’mores and White Chocolate Raspberry Yum (Tillamook); Avocado, Coconut, Lychee and Thai Tea (Magnolia); and Muddy Boots, Appalachian Trail and Mount Katahdin Crunch (Gifford’s).

While more colorful and exotic ice cream offerings are increasingly garnering consumers’ attention, milk sales continue to drop. “It doesn’t seem to be as big a part of my sales as it has been in previous years,” said Curt Rolland, director of retail operations for Golden Gate Petroleum in Martinez, California.

Other industry leaders see the trend line in milk sales rising, but very slowly and haltingly. “There have been some new (dairy) items and brands, but growth has been slow,” David Crawford told Convenience Store Decisions. Crawford is vice president of operations for Green Valley Grocery in Las Vegas, which runs 55 convenience stores.

Strong Marketing Will Boost Dairy Sales

The secret to keeping dairy sales healthy is strong merchandising, experts say.

“Most of the time (dairy products) get tucked away in the cooler,” Robert Morgan said. Morgan is president of C-Store Consulting Inc. in Port Orange, Florida.

“The operator doesn’t do a whole lot of product placement. They don’t do banners, they don’t do signs — very rarely will you see that. It’s the same thing with their ice cream category. Most of it is stuck in a freezer along a side wall, or in their walk-in. It’s there because they’ve got to have it, but you don’t see them doing too much with it.”

Morgan said the challenge for convenience store operators intent on boosting dairy sales is establishing a balance depending on demographics and customers’ preferences.

“It’s hard to justify moving them into a better spot when you can move stuff there that you can be making twice as much money on,” Morgan said. “So if they really want to promote that stuff they’ve got to do something to really draw attention to it.”

Market researchers say pushing dairy sales might be a worthwhile investment, considering prospects for retail sales of dairy alternatives (soy, almond, rice and coconut milk) is expected to surpass $1.7 billion next year, according to Marketresearch.com.

Schubert Stocks Perfect Equipment for Dairy Sales

We at Schubert Equipment Sales have the best options for convenience store operators looking to showcase their daily selections. Our LumaVue Refrigerated Merchandisers allow customers quick, easy and convenient access to dairy drinks and products. With wire shelves and interior fluorescent lighting, these units look professional, sturdy and reliable.

Our School Milk Cooler earns an A+ for function, fitness and flair. With stainless steel doors and heavy-duty casters (with brakes), these units will keep both children and adults well stocked with plenty of dairy products.

Our Beverage-Air Horizon Solid Door freezers keep ice cream treats protected while you still have convenient access to foods when needed. Icy cold and sturdy, these reach-in freezers won’t leave you in the cold.

Looking for the industry’s highest-quality equipment? Go to our products page. We’d like to hear from you.

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