Convenience is a buzzword that has been on the tip of every marketer’s tongue for years now. It is what consumers want, and it is what manufacturers and retailers strive to provide.
Naturally, convenience stores fit right in here—places for shoppers to run in and grab just what they need and want. Exhibitors at this year’s National Association of Convenience Stores’ NACS Show plan to display just that—new and innovative products designed to attract and keep consumer attention. Of course most—if not all—of these products appeal to grocery retailers as well.
The 2016 NACS Show is set to take place in Atlanta from Oct. 18-21 at the Georgia World Congress Center. A kickoff party will be held the evening of Oct. 18 at Restaurant Row, conveniently located near the convention center. New this year will be an evening event held the 19 at the College Football Hall of Fame.
“Retail buyers come to the show for many reasons,” says Brian Rutter, vice president, marketing for NACS, based in Alexandria, Va. “All of these reasons are designed to help retailers attract new consumers, increase sales, and grow bottom lines.”
With an exhibit floor spanning more than 410,000 square-feet, there are sure to be countless new products, services and ideas to explore when checking out the booths of the more than 1,200 exhibiting companies from around the world.
Below is a sneak peek of what will be new and noteworthy at this year’s show:
Blu eCigs will display its expanded flavor range, which includes two new flavors—Glacier Mint and Carolina Bold. Officials for the Charlotte, N.C.-based company say that its current focus is on flavor palette innovation, and making sure to choose the flavors that will have the highest consumer demand.
“blu is known for shaking up the e-vapor industry with its history of innovation and has stuck by the principle of listening to what consumers want,” says Matt Kessler, director of brand PR and entertainment marketing. “When blu launches something new, it is for a driven purpose, not just for innovation’s sake.”
The new Carolina Bold and Glacier Mint Tanks are available for $14.99 each.
“Smokers’ taste preferences are diverse, and with the addition of Carolina Bold and Glacier Mint to an already extensive flavor range, blu is satisfying the demands of even more adult smokers,” adds Kessler.
Calico Brands has been attending the NACS show for more than 20 years, according to officials from the Ontario, Calif.-based company. This year, the company will showcase its Scripto Officially Licensed Multi-Purpose Lighters, Scripto Folding Lighter and Scripto Theme Pocket Lighters. This selection highlights the company’s most popular, top-selling impulse items, officials say.
The Scripto Multi-Purpose Lighters are licensed with 38 collegiate teams, featuring the team logo and school colors. The product is designed to light grills, candles, campfires and fireplaces. “The Multi-Purpose Lighters bring forth style to everyday lighting activities and let fans show their team spirit,” says Krista Shaw, marketing manager.
The Scripto Refillable Folding Utility Lighter folds into a compact 5.5-inch lighter, designed for easy storage in small compartments, kitchen drawers, garages and backpacks. “The folding nozzle conveniently lights in multiple positions, says Shaw. “The new Folding Utility Lighter is perfect for indoor lighting, hiking, camping, picnics and other outdoor activities.”
Shaw adds that Scripto Theme Pocket lighters are a way for retailers to increase front end profits, as they offer unique wrap designs to appeal to various consumer demographics.
The Swisher International booth will not only feature new products this year, but an array of entertainment for showgoers to enjoy as well.
The Jacksonville, Fla.-based company will feature two new performers on its Swisher Artist Project stage, Clayton Gardner and Michael Tolcher. Both artists are part of the Swisher Sweets Artist Project that features musical performances and creative artists in a live event series in multiple cities across the country, say company officials. This idea was inspired by the pop up concerts held inside convenience stores as a part of the company’s Artist Project.
“We are as passionate about our customers as we are our products, and we believe that is the key to success in the industry,” says Jane Green, vice president of marketing. “This initiative shows our appreciation to fans across the country and interlaces our culture with theirs.”
As far as product lines go, this year Swisher plans to feature Swisher Sweets Limited Edition taste, Twisted Berry, set for national launch on Oct. 15. “It is sure to be as popular as our summer favorites Summer Twist and Arctic Ice,” adds Green.
Additionally, the company has expanded its ACID Premium Cigarillos line-up to include ACID Quick Silver, enriched with subtle hints of red wine.
Optimo Natural Leaf Cigarillos are another new product that will be on display, and they will be available in four distinct blends. “The competitive price and unique blends are certain to appeal to the natural leaf consumer,” Green says.
Lastly, Swisher invites showgoers to visit the EAS Lounge for a first look its new and innovative vapor products.
CB Distributors officials say that NACS is a great opportunity to show off what they have been working on. “NACS is the ideal show to launch new items,” says Carlos Bengoa, president of the Beloit, Wis.-based company. “The industry best retailers are looking for high ring items that provide strong movement and take up little space. Our items are proven to deliver on that promise or are poised to do so in 2017.”
CB Distributors manufactures many brands, and plans to highlight four of them at this year’s show. The B.A.R. Shot (Blood Alcohol Reduction shot) is a clinically proven over the counter supplement, say officials. It is designed to reduce blood alcohol content faster than the body can on its own.
Also on display will be Revive U!, a dietary herbal supplement made from Kanna extract, for relaxation and stress relief. Jubi—a product that company officials describe as the “take in the happy” shot—is formulated specifically to improve focus. Bengoa adds that the product is a proven seller in more than 3,000 stores.
To appeal to the growing segment of vaping consumers, CB Distributors will also display its Vapin Plus line, a complete line of vaping products. New to the lineup is Vapin Plus Elite. “Vapin Plus Elite is a revolutionary ceramic atomizer closed system designed to deliver the smoothest flavor with improved convenience,” Bengoa says.
Smokey Mountain Chew
Smokey Mountain is dedicated to providing the best tobacco-free smokeless alternatives on the market in flavors that adult consumers demand. The Sandy Hook, Conn.-based company will showcase its range of product choices, such as Smokey Mountain Snuff, a loose smokeless product, available in eight flavors, including a new citrus flavor. Also on display will be Smokey Mountain Pouches, a single-portion product available in Wintergreen and Arctic Mint.
A benefit to retailers is that Smokey Mountain is both tobacco- and nicotine-free, which means no tobacco taxes, no tobacco regulations and no tobacco advertising restrictions, company officials add.
“The tobacco-free segment is growing, and Smokey Mountain has had a decade of unmatched growth,” says Dave Savoca, Smokey Mountain’s president. “In retailer dollar growth, Smokey Mountain has increased at a level nine times greater than its nearest competitor.”
Fueling its growth is the level of advertising the company partakes in, including national commercials, sponsorship of a primetime outdoor show, features on NFL, ESPN and NASCAR radio, as well as event marketing. “Pro football hall-of-famer Randy White is Smokey Mountain’s national spokesperson and a key member of its team,” Savoca adds. Other celebrity endorsers include baseball legend Chipper Jones and hall of fame wrestler Shawn Michaels.
“Smokey Mountain is considered a category extender, meaning it brings new and incremental dollars into the category,” Savoca says. “Instead of investing in more ‘me too’ substitute products, take a close look at Smokey Mountain. It just might complete your smokeless offering.”
Living Essentials officials look forward to debuting two products at NACS this year, and also meeting with showgoers.
“We’ve been attending NACS since the launch of 5-hour ENERGY nearly 12 years ago. NACS is incredibly valuable for us as a company,” says Melissa Skabich, Living Essentials’ communications director. “We use the four meeting rooms in our booth to hold our wholesale and retail meetings. During this time, we discuss business reviews, introduce new lines, make introductions and sometimes just talk shop.”
The two new products which will be on display at the Farmington Hills, Mich.-based company’s booth are the 5-hour ENERGY Protein shot and Extra Strength Blue Raspberry, a new flavor designed to appeal to consumers’ palettes.
Each 5-hour ENERGY Protein shot has 21-grams of protein and other ingredients designed to energize users. The product is available in four flavors: Berry, Peach Mango, Grape Extra Strength and Berry Extra Strength. Each 6-ounce bottle contains 100 calories and less than 1-gram of sugar. “It is a great fit for busy lifestyles, athletes, weekend warriors—just about everyone who is looking to add protein and energy to their diet,” says Skabich.
Cheyenne International plans to bring a taste of paradise to the NACS show in Atlanta, says Hannah Farmer, marketing campaign manager for the Grover, N.C.-based company.
The Cheyenne booth will feature leis, beverages and an introduction to Cheyenne’s first cigars line extension, Tropical. According to Farmer, the company’s consumers selected this flavor themselves. Company officials describe it as a tangy, citrus-infused cigar. Each of the cyan-colored 100’s packs contain 20 filtered cigars.
Cheyenne has been exhibiting at the NACS show for almost a decade. This year, company officials are looking forward to the chance to show off its Tropical cigar, as well as taking advantage of the other benefits the show provides.
“While the NACS Show is a great opportunity to debut new products, we also value the face-to-face time that it provides,” Farmer says. “The show gives us the chance to maintain dynamic relationships with valuable partners and also helps us build relationships with prospective customers. Whether we are networking, connecting or educating attendees about tobacco industry updates, the NACS Show is the premier event for suppliers and the retail industry as a whole.”
A Learning Curve
Even for industry veterans there is always something new to learn and a way to improve. This year’sNACS Show, Oct. 18-21 at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta,will feature a multitude of speakers and education sessions to keep attendees well informed and alert to how the industry is consistently changing.
With more than 62 education sessions for attendees to choose from, there will be no shortage of topics covered to help showgoers grow. Some of these will include training for small operators (less than five stores), consumer trends in foodservice, the importance of cleanliness in stores and dozens of others. New this year is the “Session Sign Up,” a feature allowing attendees to preregister for the sessions they would like to attend, guaranteeing them a seat.
This year’s show will feature four general sessions,starting with Merit Gest, who will discuss making all employees highly valuable. Steve Gross—founder of the Life is Good Playmakers charity, which connects teachers and social workers to help children overcome violence and illness—will discuss accessing one’s own playfulness to bring greater joy and creativity to their work. The Ideas 2 Go Video will feature convenience store retailers nationwide offering up their best ideas. Finally, on the morning of Oct. 21, showgoers can hear a talk given by the National Football League’s five-time MVP, Peyton Manning.
To keep members and show attendees in the know regarding the rapid technology advancement taking place today, this will be the third year that NACS will present its Technology Edge program. “Technology Edge is a part of the NACS Show, designed expressly for the industry’s technology professionals,” says Brian Rutter, vice president, marketing for the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), based in Alexandria, Va. “It provides industry retailer technology professionals a more personalized and high-value experience of learning, connecting and access to new solutions at the NACS Show.”
Issues covered will include data security, EMV and customer engagement, as well as group discussions on various technology topics. The program will also allow participants access to new products and solutions at the Technology Edge Solutions Center located at booth 3473.
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