Segmenting Your Product Innovation Strategy: Should You Consider Channel And Occasion?

Kellanova (formerly Kellogg’s) recently announced new flavours and formats for its Away From Home snack offerings that will only be available within the C-store channel. These flavours leverage nostalgia and offer more excitement than your standard grocery lineup. The packages are smaller for peg-board display and are resealable for portioning and portability.

As you can see from the new product lineup below, they offer a break from the everyday. These seem perfect for a nostalgic road trip or breaking up the monotony of a long drive.

  • Club Crisps Available in Sea Salt and Ranch, these thin, light, flaky, crisps straddle the line between chip and cracker for simple snacking pleasure with none of those guilt-inducing artificial flavours or colours.

  • Rice Krispies Treats Original Homestyle Bar Because no one ever said the puffed rice cereal was the best part, this nostalgic iteration of the famous treat adds extra marshmallows. No health halo here; but leaning hard into our fondest memories and the wholesomeness of “homestyle” taste without the hassle.

  • Pop-Tarts Bites Cinnamon Roll These bite-size morsels combine the beloved breakfast pastry flavour with Gen Z’s favorite tasty toaster treat in a more portable offering. There’s plenty of nostalgia around Pop-Tarts for everyone up to Gen X, too, so expect wide appeal to families.

  • Pop-Tarts Apple Jacks A pair of breakfast favourites join forces in a snackable mash-up boasting aromas of warm cinnamon and sweet apple taste. It’s a clever way to market classic “apple cinnamon” flavour to kids and parents alike.

  • Pringles Scorchin’ Buffalo In their own words, these spicy bites deliver “scorchin’ heat from edge to edge” with bold Buffalo flavour. At 7,000 Scoville Heat Units, it’s the flaming-est flavour yet for the stackable potato crisp snack.

  • Pringles Harvest Blends If fiery heat isn’t your snacking jam, Farmhouse Cheddar and Homestyle Ranch might be more to your taste. With a blend of ingredients — including “multigrains” — and crispy, crunchy texture, they offer a complex tasting experience and a bit of a health halo you might not expect from this venerable snack.

  • RXBAR A.M. Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate This entry into the better-for-you snacking category boldly promotes key ingredients oats, peanuts, egg whites, and honey on the front of the package. It aims to satisfy chocolate and peanut butter cravings (dark chocolate, of course) and keep you full longer with 10g of protein.

Reviewing this line-up got me wondering if marketers and researchers consider different channels, like C-stores, or different occasions enough when developing new products and formats.

Where and When We Shop Reflects in the Foods We Buy

Consumers don't look for the same type of products in convenience stores as they do in grocery stores. They also eat and cook differently during the week than on weekends. Both weekends and trips to a C-store are often more indulgent in nature.

What consumers eat and drink Monday through Thursday differs from Friday to Sunday, reflecting changes in schedule, priorities, and mood. Weekdays are often about efficiency, routine, and health, while weekends offer a chance to relax, indulge, and socialize through food. Weekday food preparation and consumption are all about ease, and eating times are more scheduled and structured. Think more microwavable dinners and more RTH (Ready to Heat) or RTE (Ready to Eat) offerings. These shoppers are solutions-focused.

On the other hand, weekend consumption is more indulgent and less rushed in terms of preparation and enjoyment. Meals on weekends are more leisurely and are often shared with family and friends. There's more time to enjoy the dining experience, whether at home or eating out, and people are more likely to treat themselves to richer, more decadent foods. There's heightened exploration of new recipes, ingredients, and flavours: we see more barbequing and less microwaving.

Knowing these key differences in shopping behaviours, are there opportunities you could be leveraging? Most retailers, of course, already do this for major shifts around holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas and key cultural events such as the Super Bowl. And some restaurateurs leverage this with occasions like weekend brunch, particularly around celebrations like Mother’s Day, and through “patio season.”

As a retailer, should you change your front-of-store merchandising to appeal to these different shopper occasions? Quick and easy for everyday consumption, and more indulgent for weekends? And as a producer, are there formulation tweaks or even simple package call-outs or marketing shifts that could help you position your products for need-states that vary according to the clock and the calendar? Staying alert to what consumer’s shopping habits reveal can help you stay top-of-mind when they have specific gaps to fill.

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