Something old, something new?
I wonder if you are one of the great majority of people for whom the consumption of chocolate is a regular, if not daily event. Most of us love the stuff, and for the vending industry that is just as well. With vending hot drinks sales in a slow but steady decline, the sales performance of confectionery, snacks, and cold drinks through vending, has gone a long way to ensuring on-going success and profitability for many vending operators. In an endeavour to address the hot drink issues, most have moved to a high street style of coffee drink to woo consumers. This made me think about whether we could apply the same concept to sales of hot drinking chocolate. After all, we are talking about a taste most people adore, and we have evidence to suggest that this would be a great time to review our offering. British chocolate company Hotel Chocolat, for example, has had immense growth and success with UK consumers providing additional support to this idea. Their sales growth was up 14% last year and they are expanding into international markets to accelerate even further. The ethical nature of their offering gives further credence to this idea, tapping in, as it does, to the current environmental and ethical psyche of the average UK consumer. Their experience suggests that in 2020 we vending operators need to be doing things differently if we are going to continue to prosper. “Differently” could mean revisiting something we have done for years but not reviewed for some time. Consumer trends have always been crucial to retail and foodservice, but never more than now. We all vend hot chocolate, and it has generally been a consistent seller. But we need growth, and if we only do the same things, generally we will only get the same result. Perhaps now would be a great time to speak to Nestlé, Mondeléz, Ferrero, Aimia, Barry Callebaut, Kerry Foods or anyone we currently buy ingredients from. We can review our menus to help give consumers more of what they want.
As for “something new”. A report from one global analyst suggests that the evolution and growth of consumer consciousness and conscience, is not going to end. As a result, the preference to eat “smart diets” will grow. To some degree, we can blame the media and the Internet, but we are all increasingly health and environmentally concerned. It’s just a fact of life in 2020 so these facts WILL ultimately affect the vending industry. Sooner or later, we are told to expect the drive away from sugar, especially as more sugar based sweeteners improve in quality, flavour and price. Equally important will be environmental packaging. One possibility is that packaging will even be edible! See Quick news on page 17 for more on this. Frankly, the mind boggles. Consuming less, but better, is another mantra being promoted. This should make us think about our plan-o-grams and the price individuals might now be prepared to pay in contrast to say 2 or 3 years ago. As to what those products might be, consider the following; larger sharing bag opportunities, product development innovations from Nestlé, Mondeléz, and Mars, plus a vast array of energy/protein/healthier bars that are growing increasingly popular. NIVO will continue to search for more of these options to help the process, whether it be older products or new ones that consumers want.