Chocolate for one, please!

The chocolate singles segment is key to impulse purchases, and here’s why



At Zavitz General Store in Thedford, ON, there are roughly 40 chocolate singles SKUs to choose from, and these small but mighty bars represent about 20% of the store’s overall confectionery category, says owner Jeff Zavitz. He adds that when it comes to the overall chocolate category, singles bars make up about half of all sales, with king bars close behind.

Singles are important to the c-store channel because singles bars are just the right size for many c-channel customers, says Greg Coles, Category Shopper Development Leader, Confectionery with Nestlé Canada. “Single bars offer the right size, the right price and the broadest variety to engage consumers. This contributes to chocolate singles having the highest household penetration, the highest weekly purchase rate, and being the most impulsive format in the category,” says Coles.

In fact, singles bars continue to be the fastest growing immediate consumption chocolate format growing at +4% in the latest 52 weeks, and within the c-channel, it’s a $62M segment that accounts for 58% of all everyday chocolate units sold*.

That’s why it’s an essential category for every c-retailer to get right. Ask yourself these three questions to see if you’re promoting the chocolate singles category correctly.

Is the category visible?

The front cash is the only guaranteed spot in your store that all paying customers will visit. That’s why stocking this space with impulse items is key.

“With singles’ high household penetration, high frequency of purchase, and high impulsivity, it’s the best format to create shopper conversion for that incremental impulse purchase at the cash,” says Coles.

“Many customers come in either looking for a chocolate bar or they’re not sure what type of snack they want until they see it,” says Zavitz. Keeping this segment in a highly visible location will keep it top of mind. This location also provides staff members with the visual cue to suggest adding a chocolate bar or two to a purchase. 

Is the price right?

Offers such as two-for or three-for drive consumption and continue to show the highest incremental lift, says Coles, adding that there are other levers retailers can use to increase shopper conversion beyond price. “Smart display placement is critical for such an impulse-driven category, and leveraging other trips by bundling chocolate with beverage or meal combos is a great way to grow basket size.”

This is something Zavitz knows all about. “We often offer a two-for-one price on new products or offer a combo deal for someone looking to buy a beverage and a chocolate bar.”

At Zavitz General Store, new products are always displayed at the counter near the register so people can see them, and when a new flavour or brand is hitting their shelves, they typically offer taste tests in their foodservice area where customers can try a new product.

Is the category exciting?

Promotions help to keep the category fresh and engaging with new offers and display tools. These programs are often supported by advertising campaigns, so many of your customers will already know about a consumer promotion prior to heading into your store. Not only are they often aligned with a movie release or seasonal activity, but many will offer an opportunity for the consumer to win great prizes, which can trigger multiple purchases.

Featuring innovation in store is essential to promoting trial in this category, but as Zavitz says, it can be hard to know when innovative options are coming onto the market, and which ones you should make the room to showcase. “We’re located in a small rural town, so we rarely see any reps from any of the chocolate manufacturers, so we have to rely heavily on the expertise of our wholesaler reps for info regarding new products.

He says the number of innovative SKUs coming onto the market can be somewhat overwhelming for him and his customers. To mitigate this, Zavitz ensures his staff members try all innovative products that come into the store, so they can recommend their favourites to customers looking to try something new.

After all, the chocolate singles segment offers the perfect size and price point to encourage customers to try something new!

Quick tips:

  1. Keep the SKUs organized. Follow a planogram to ensure your shelves are organized according to sales data, which means the top sellers should be in the best locations, and be sure to keep brand extensions together.

  2. Offer a deal. Two-for pricing or special bundling opportunities will build customers’ baskets and encourage them to try something new.

  3. Make sure it’s visible. Keep innovation close to the cash register so customers can see it, and switch it up often to keep your store looking fresh.

  4. Educate employees. Encourage your employees to taste the innovation you’re bringing in, so they can speak to customers about their favourites.


*Nielsen MarketTrack, Latest 52 weeks, period ending Jan 9, 2016

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