Employees are returning to offices, albeit reluctantly for many. Business and industry operators have an opportunity to elevate the employee experience by rethinking their micro market and grab-and-go offerings.
Average office occupancy surpassed 50% in January 2023, its highest level since before the COVID pandemic.1 That level is likely to increase as virtually all companies (90%) expect to have return-to-office policies by the end of 2024.2
Business and industry operators can boost the employee experience by revisiting their micro market and grab-and-go offerings or considering adding this option. “With flexible work schedules and return to office three days per week, the industry is seeing a greater adoption of micro markets in place of full-service cafeterias or hybrid versions of cafe/micro market solutions,” according to Sam Michelli, regional business manager of vending at Campbell’s Foodservice.
Market researcher Datassential reports foodservice offerings in the workplace make employees happier with their jobs and feel appreciated by their employer.3 And, with offerings more closely aligned with employee interests and needs, employers are likely to see improvements in productivity, employee retention, and corporate culture.2
Here are some ideas micro market operators might want to keep in mind as they reexamine their offerings.
Idea #1: Target High-Growth Categories
While convenience is certainly one of the main attractions of micro markets, if consumer demands are not being met, they soon will seek out other meal alternatives.
According to Vending Marketwatch, among the fastest-growing categories for micro markets and vending machine options in 2022 were healthy items (including plant-based), up 40%; food, up 35%; snacks, up 27%; and packaged cold drinks, up 15%.4 These categories include a wide range of items, some of which might even have cross-over appeal.
For example, take V8 +ENERGY®. This nutritious beverage option is made from fruits and vegetable juice. Rich in B vitamins with 80 mg of caffeine, it’s perfect for health-minded employees looking for an energy boost throughout the workday.
Idea #2: Offer a Mix of Items
Some employees want a meal, but others just want something quick to help them get through the next meeting. In addition to healthy items, micro markets should include things that satisfy cravings or that might spur an impulse buy. In fact, recent Technomic research found roughly three-fourths of consumers (77%) eat at least one snack per day.5
When curating offerings for micro markets, it’s essential to strike a balance between indulgent cravings and better-for-you options. Impulse purchases drive 49% of all foodservice snack purchases, emphasizing the importance of tempting choices.6 Snack enthusiasts, comprising a significant portion of the market, prioritize flavor above all else.
Featuring a variety of on-trend flavors, Snack Factory® Pretzel Crisps are a perfect savory, crunchy snack to satisfy cravings.
Idea #3: Feature Conveniently Packaged Items
Convenience and mobility are important factors to keep in mind for employees who don’t have time to sit and consume a meal or who may just want to purchase something to be eaten later. This is especially true for younger employees who highly value convenience.7
Convenience items, such as Campbell’s® Chunky® microwavable soups, not only meet the needs of busy, on-the-go employees but also create memorable customer experiences that are likely to encourage impulse purchases as well as repeat business.8
Idea #4: Focus on Brand Names
Micro markets and grab-and-go kiosks also should include well-known brands. When faced with a plethora of choices, and frequently under time constraints, most consumers will opt to go with familiar, tried-and-true names.
In fact, Technomic found the vast majority of business and industry customers (77%) agreed with the statement, “I prefer to buy products with a brand I recognize.”9
“Campbell’s portfolio is well positioned with microwavable soups, beverages,
and high velocity snack brands to fit the needs of varying consumers in B&I accounts,” according to Michelli.
Sales for vending and micro market operators have been on the rebound and are nearing pre-pandemic levels.4 As more employees return to the office on a more frequent, if not full-time, basis, that growth is expected to continue. Business and industry operators should ensure their offerings are fully aligned with consumer needs in order to get the most out of this opportunity.
“At the end of the day, micro market operators and consumers shopping these locations are seeking brands that sell,” said Michelli. “As we see micro markets continue to evolve with fresh foods, our portfolio is highly complementary with soup and a salad or chips and sandwich for these grab-and-go concepts.”
Campbell’s Foodservice Business & Industry Offerings
From soups and snacks to desserts and beverages, Campbell’s Foodservice has a range of multi-use and single-serve products that are perfect for business and industry dining. Campbell’s portfolio of well-known brands—including Campbell’s® Chunky® microwavable bowls, V8® fruit and vegetable juices, Snyder’s of Hanover® pretzels, Kettle Brand® and Cape Cod® kettle-cooked potato chips, Late July® tortilla chips and Lance® sandwich crackers—offers a mix of grab-and-go and snack items to help micro market operators continue to grow and drive profits in today’s business environment.
1 State of Business Dining Report, Dinova Technomic, First Quarter, 2023
2 Mayer, Kathryn, “As Summer Ends, Workers Head Back to the Office,” Society for Human Resource Management, September 5, 2023
3 B&I Segment Guide, Datassential, 2023
4 “2022 State of the Vending & Micro Market Industry Report,” Vending Market Watch, June 13, 2023
5 “Snacking Occasion,” Technomic Consumer Trend Report, 2022
6 “Snacking Away From Home,” July 2023 Consumer Omnibus, Campbell’s Foodservice and Datassential
7 “Generational Divide May Reveal Emerging Restaurant Trends,” National Restaurant Association, February 2, 2022
8 Skyba, Randy, “6 Tips for Implementing Grab-and-Go Fridges for a Micro Market,” Vending Marketwatch, June 15, 2023
9 Business & Industry Multi Client Study, Technomic, 2021