Chicago — The endless quest for presence in the retail space and staying attuned to consumers’ needs remain the biggest challenges in retail, exhibitors told Candy & Snack TODAY during the Sweets & Snacks Expo.
“We love the opportunity to get beyond the set to the front of the store,” said Koren Ivie, Just Born, Inc. brand manager for Mike & Ike and Hot Tamales says. “So it’s important to always make certain your insights really are consumer-driven. That way, you’ll know how you have to sell through to get to that front end.”
To illustrate, she noted the consumer-driven shift on the shelf in the past few years from theater boxes and laydown bags to standup bags and individual packs as shoppers’ focus has moved toward portion control and convenience.
Jennifer Jamie, marketing assistant at Flava Puff, agrees getting out of the set and into key areas is a major objective, particularly for her company, which is expanding beyond its core private label business with 20 line extensions. As gaining visibility in the retail space is key to its objectives, the company is using shippers provide flexibility for retailers to capture attention.
Keeping displays creative, new and exciting is a constant challenge, added Derek Glade, Taffy Town, Inc. vice-president, sales and marketing. “It’s becoming more difficult to develop creative marketing solutions because there’s more variety and the options keep increasing: There are so many avenues retailers can go down.”
He noted the Expo is an opportunity to see what’s new in products, learn about new companies and get a better perspective at the diversification within the industry. “There are so many ways to drive purchases through displays, and no better way than to attend this show to see them,” Glade said.
The wealth and diversity of products within categories can lead to confusion for shoppers and retailers, Perky Jerky Director of Social Meatia Relations Dafne Tsakiris said. “They need to educate themselves. We use guarana to tenderize meat, not as an energy additive. Because the jerky market is saturated, helping retailers differentiate among products can help them bring incremental customers into the category.”
Misinformation also plagues importers, added Karen Dutton, national sales manager, Squire Boone Village, which carries a number of items made in China. “People don’t understand how strict the Chinese are about food quality.”
In addition, Dutton said, there’s the challenge of providing quality at a competitive price: “People want quality, but they want it to be cheap as well. That’s not always possible.”
What’s the best way to approach the challenges in retail? Just Born’s Ivie offers a reminder: “At the end of the day, retailers want what consumers want.”