The Snacks and Candy Categories Reign On

Creating an experience around these products can win over customers and keep them coming back.

June 17, 2022

Chocolate Candy Snacks Sign

By Sara Counihan

ALEXANDRIA, Va.—"I’ve always envisioned a convenience store as being a concession stand for adults,” said Tim Young, category manager, Newcomb Oil, on this week’s NACS Convenience Matters podcast episode. “So how do you come up with ways to add some excitement?”

Young said that convenience stores satisfy customers’ cravings for snacks, and retailers should be implementing programs that give customers an experience.

“When you walk in, you might find an item that takes you back to your childhood, when you remember going into a store or going to the concession stand with two quarters and trying to make it last,” he said. “How do you put programs and promotions together that are just a little bit different that add excitement?”

With gas prices at historic highs, it can be tough to win people inside of the store. Young said c-stores should have a promotional endcap that stops customers when they first walk in. Newcomb Oil has invested a lot of time and energy in its queuing system so when customers are at that point of purchase, they’re getting a chance to see some items they may have passed over, according to Young.

“For me, a lot of it comes down to merchandising, and how do you do that differently,” he said.

The salty snacks category performed well last year, according to NACS data, and within the category, some of the trends consumers are wanting include hot and funky-flavored snacks, while nuts and seeds, though teetering in and out of the top 10 salty snacks list for a while, have found a strong place within the category.

Now that the summer driving season has officially begun, Young said that many customers on road trips will be stopping at c-stores to not only fill up and grab snacks but also to use the restrooms, and when customer exit the restroom, it is a great time to capture their attention.

“When they come out of the bathroom, that first section should be something that grabs their attention,” said Young. “When you do your layouts and set them up, it’s all about adjacencies as well.” He explained that since package beverages are what people tend to pick up and take for family gatherings or events, that’s where c-stores should merchandise take-home items, such as chips, because those go well together.

When it comes to promotions, Young advises to keep them simple because data show that customers spend around two minutes in a store.

“If you want to build that basket, do your layouts with that in mind,” he said.

Tune in to this week’s NACS Convenience Matters podcast episode No. 340 “Candy and Snacks Drive C-Store Excitement,” to learn about how Young fell into working on his company’s social media channels and advice on how c-stores can get started in the arena.

Young spoke at the NACS SOI Summit earlier this year, and NACS Magazine covered his presentation on the salty snacks and candy categories. See how the industry performed in these top 10 categories last year.

The NACS State of the Industry Report of 2021 is now available for purchase. See how the industry performed after a disruptive 2020. Secure your digital copy today!

Sara Counihan is contributing editor of NACS Daily and NACS Magazine. She can be reached at