As part of C-Store’s ongoing Chilled Champions initiative, we’ve tapped into some detailed new insight from HIM Research & Consulting about the dairy category to help you build a better range and display
Chilled is a vitally important part of the product mix for a modern convenience store. It’s a category where wastage is a possibility, and it is time-consuming to manage as well, but it’s absolutely vital from a shopper’s point of view as it is central to the top-up shopping mission in which c-stores need to excel if they are to thrive in the marketplace.
Chilled dairy is most commonly bought on a top-up shopping mission. This mission should be the absolute heartland of the local convenience store, yet consumers are increasingly being turned and tempted away by other retail channels, such as discounters, as they improve their offer in key categories. In fact, shoppers are just as likely to buy chilled dairy from a discounter as they are from a c-store (average purchase frequency 0.46 times per week for c-stores, 0.45 for a discounter).
Other consumer trends point to growth in the chilled dairy category overall. In HIM’s Future of Convenience study earlier this year, half of shoppers said they would be cooking from scratch more in the next 12 months, while 40% said they would be doing more baking at home (only 11% said they would be doing less).
Dairy is also one of the least shopped categories for home delivery, with almost half of UK adults saying they would not purchase chilled dairy online. So there are plenty of reasons to get the offer right in your store.
HIM’s Chilled Dairy Category Focus looks at how shoppers shop the category, their opinions on the range, price and promotions, and ultimately how suppliers and c-stores can drive category sales.
According to the study, shoppers buy chilled dairy products almost every time they visit a c-store. To a large degree, chilled dairy shoppers are brand-focused, as they have a clear preference of how they want the fixture to be laid out as they look for product type first, then brand and then price. So a good selection of strong brands is going to be key to driving sales in the category overall.
That said, few have a preferred brand and if it comes to a choice between buying a product or going without, most will switch to an alternative. And promotions work well, too: within chilled 63% would change their brand for promotions 57% would switch to an alternative brand if it was cheaper and 29% opt for featured brands on prominent displays. So don’t forget to make cabinets and promotions eye-catching, and to display price information prominently.
Own label has a place, but the perception of quality varies considerably according to the product group. For example, only 6% of shoppers think own-brand milk is of lower quality than national brands, but this figure rises to 26% for cheese, 29% for yogurt and 36% for butter.
Retailers will be well advised to also make sure they have sufficient variety in pack sizes and formats for the key dairy categories. When asked, only 49% of shoppers believed that there was a wide enough choice of pack types or sizes for cheese available in their local c-store.
The study also asked retailers for their view of the category, and as many as one in four retailers said they found it difficult to stay in stock for milk throughout the day. Staff spend on average 33 minutes a day managing and merchandising chilled dairy, making it the second most time-consuming category after alcohol (35 mins) to manage.
Overall, there is a strong desire for category management within chilled - two out of every five retailers don’t follow planograms in the category, yet many want them. Retailers are also hungry for information on best-sellers, new products, stock control and general category knowledge.
On this last point, C-Store and the Chilled Champions group can help. The group comprises key suppliers Müller Dairy, Müller Wiseman, Kepak, Dairy Crest, PepsiCo and Kerry Foods, who are committed to raising awareness and performance of the chilled category in the c-store sector through range, merchandising and optimising fixture flow.
Keep an eye out for future issues of Convenience Store, where the Chilled Champions will be sharing their knowledge and expertise of the category, and working with a number of convenience store owners to boost their chilled sales. There will also be practical demonstrations and product displays showcased at the National Convenience Show, held at the NEC Birmingham from March 24-26.
What shoppers want from promotions
Half price offers have the greatest effect on UK adults when shopping for chilled dairy, and multibuys are also in demand equally across the sub-categories. Single price reductions are more in demand from shoppers buying butter and yellow fats, while pricemarked packs (PMPs) prove most popular with cheese shoppers
C-stores can demonstrate a positive price perception by price matching with the multiples (according to 64% of shoppers), regular promotions (49%) and PMPs (34%)
Although 46% of shoppers are brand loyal, the majority of consumers are influenced by promotions, so it is key to ensure that your products are regularly on promotion, or use other techniques such as cross-merchandising to tempt consumers
Two-pack multibuys are favoured in the category with the exception of yogurts, where four-packs are the preferred size to be bought on deal.
The dairy category is just one of the many different product categories where HIM provides detailed insight, offering an in-depth understanding of a category and helping to identify the opportunities for growth