BBI Analysis – Finding Growth in the C-Store Channel Plus Four Trends to Watch

The convenience channel (C-Store) is closing in on Grocery as the top channel to buy candy.

According to IRI and 210 Analytics, C-store candy sales soared 12.2% to $7.5 billion in 2022 and is expected to continue to grow in 2023. C-Stores have become the candy destination channel for consumers looking to add a little indulgence to their lives, closing in on Grocery as the top channel.

Key Takeaways:

  • Overall, chocolate sales grew 8.7% to $3.4 billion in 2022, according to IRI and 210 Analytics, while volume in non-chocolate candy boasted new records, increasing 15% to around $3 billion.
  • The gum/mints subcategory realized the largest sales hike at 16%, while unit sales rose 3.6%. Sugar-free chocolate sales rose 9.5%, sugar-free diet candy rose 7.4%, and sugarless gum sales skyrocketed 20.5%. 
  • Notably, C-Stores are seeing increased household penetration, trips, and a hike in dollars per trip.
  • Americans' increased snacking and millennials' increased spending at C-Stores.

The Four Candy Trends to Keep an Eye on via 210 Analytics:

Affordable indulgence: While consumers have pulled back on spending due to inflation, they still make room for a little treat. Convenience stores can play a role in multi-occasion purchases while consumers save a little at the same time.

Snack and candy sales are rising together: Around two-thirds (76.2%) of consumers said they snack two to three times a day, according to Knit's 2022 Youth Snacking Trends Report—overall new opportunities for snack sales either in the mid-morning or mid-afternoon.

Millennials have a golden sweet tooth: An increasing portion of candy sales is being driven by millennials. They are pushing more dollars into the convenience channel. Younger customers like to experiment with new flavors, and convenience stores offer an in-and-out opportunity to do just that.

Innovation spurs sales: Candy manufacturers continually release new flavors and textures to keep shoppers excited — including items that change flavors while eating them. Big candy manufacturers have begun to launch new items in the convenience store channels for takeoff success.

Across-the-board C-Store channel sales are showing growth, and convenience is becoming the candy destination channel,  closing the gap to become the #1 and potentially surpass the Food channel.

About C-Store Dive: C-Store Dive provides in-depth journalism and insight into the news and trends shaping the convenience store industry. 

About 210 Analytics: 210 Analytics is a  marketing research firm focused on food retailing.

About IRIIRI provides the information, analytics, business intelligence solutions, consulting services, and subject matter expertise of the world's leading CPG manufacturers, retail, and media.

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