Tobacco remains the best performing category in c-stores and sales show no signs of going out

Our 2013 product survey shows that tobacco continues to fire on all cylinders in the convenience sector, with 42% of retailers surveyed claiming that it was their best performing category last year. This is significantly higher than last year’s survey, where tobacco was the best performer with 33% of the votes, illustrating the increased appreciation of its importance in tough economic times. It is also the category that retailers have the highest hopes for this year, with 36% expecting it to be the best performer.

Alcohol is the second most promising category, with 19% claiming it was their best performer last year and the same amount expecting it to perform best this year. It is also alcohol that most retailers will be dedicating more space to this year, along with energy & soft drinks.

The survey also illustrates that marketing practices are shifting. Leaflets remain the most common tool used to publicise products and services.

And while local advertising is still a popular choice, it received just 12% of votes this year, compared with 34% last year. Meanwhile, more retailers are realising the benefits of community engagement, with 11% sponsoring local events (3% last year).

What was your best performing category last year?

Tobacco 42%
Alcohol 19%
Energy & soft drinks 19%
Confectionery 7%
Groceries 4%
News & mags 2%
Other 2%
Not sure 5%

Which category do you expect to perform best this year?

Tobacco 36%
Alcohol 19%
Energy & soft drinks17%
Confectionery 10%
Groceries 5%
Chilled food 2%
Other 7%
Not sure 4%

Which product areas will you be dedicating more space to this year?

Alcohol 10%
Energy & soft drinks10%
Chilled food 8%
Confectionery 7%
Groceries 6%
Food to go 5%
Snacks 4%
Fruit & veg 2%
News & mags 2%
No change 53%
Not sure 5%

Which sales rep has been the most helpful in the past 12 months?

Cadbury 13%
Tobacco reps10%
Walkers 7%
Coca-Cola 6%
Nestlé 6%
GSK 4%
Booker 3%
Camelot 2%
Other 8%
Don’t know 31%

Which categories would you like to see more innovation from?

Confectionery 19%
Energy & soft drinks 18%
Alcohol 18%
Groceries 13%
Chilled food 12%
Snacks 11%
Tobacco 10%
Food to go 8%
Local products 7%
News & mags 7%
Fruit & veg 6%
Not sure 21%

What is the number one thing, moneywise, that manufacturers and wholesalers can do to help you in 2013?

Decent margins 47%
Pricemarked packs 23%
More promotions 15%
Deeper price cut promotions 8%
Extend credit 1%
Unsure 6%

What is the biggest overall product trend you are seeing demand for from consumers from the following?


Pricemarked packs 64%
BOGOF deals 14%
Bigger, better-value packs 10%
Own label 5%
Value zones 3%
Rounded pounds 1%
Other 3%

Which of the following do you trust most when it comes to product and merchandising advice?

Manufacturer reps 28%
Symbol groups/ wholesalers 25%
Trade mags and websites 23%
Trade associations 8%
Manufacturer websites 5%
No answer 11%

Which of the following are you using to market your products and services?

Leaflets 46%
Advertising 12%
Sponsoring local events 11%
Newsletters 7%
Website/Facebook/Twitter 5%
Email alerts 3%
None of the above 37%

Which one of the following added the most to your business during 2012?

Leading retailers were asked to nominate a shortlist of the products that added most to their business last year. This was then used as the basis for the survey question. The leading product, Coca-cola PMP 59p, was crowned Product of the Year at the Convenience Retail Awards.

Coca-cola PMP 59p 35%
Kit Kat Chunky 25%
E-lites Electronic Cigarettes 12%
Walkers Ridged Single Bag 10%
Strongbow Pear 4X500ml cans 6%
Don’t know 12%


Last year’s survey


What was your best performing product category last year?

Tobacco 33%
Alcohol 17%
Energy & soft drinks 17%
Confectionery 10%
Groceries 5%
News & mags 4%
Chilled food 2%
Other 5%
Not sure 7%

Which category do you expect to perform best this year?

Tobacco 33%
Alcohol 17%
Energy & soft drinks 12%
Confectionery 9%
Groceries 7%
News & mags 5%
Chilled food 2%
Local products 2%
Other 4%
Not sure 9%

Which product areas will you be dedicating more space to this year?

Alcohol 19%
Confectionery 17%
Energy & soft drinks 11%
Groceries 11%
Chilled 7%
Tobacco 6%
Fruit & veg 5%
News & mags 4%
Local products 3%
Other 5%
No change 31%
Don’t know 5%