Micromarkets: Are They The Future of Healthy Snacking?

Vending machines are out, micromarkets are in. Are micromarkets the future of healthy snacking at work?

There is an increase in demand for healthier food in vending machines in the corporate environment. A recent report1 conducted by the Nielsen Global Health and Wellness Survey showed that younger consumers are trending towards more healthy eating. Of more than 30,0000 consumers surveyed across the globe, many expressed concern about food ingredients, genetically modified foods (GMO), and a preference for organic foods. Micromarkets add to an employer’s ability to retain millennials because of their advanced technology, unique consumer experience, and ability to offer an array of healthy products.

Micromarkets, or self-serve markets connected to a kiosk, are replacing traditional vending machines. Instead of taking your change to buy your favorite M&M's, you have the option of choosing a KIND bar or a Sargento cheese stick, along with many other gluten-free options. Employers are investing in this type of technology to keep productivity high. They understand that health is wealth, and that keeping their employees healthy means giving them healthy options.These micromarkets are like a mini convenience store at the office. Research firm Brad Bachtelle2 of Bachtelle & Associates projected there will be 35,000 micromarket locations by the year 2022, and they will generate $1.6 billion in revenue over the next 10 years.

Micromarkets offer more products than a vending machine, but less than a full grocery mart. They have prepared lunches, healthy snacks, and drinks that people can access during their work day. Items such as beef jerky, and pistachios are simple options available. Micromarkets also allow the availability of fruits, vegetables, yogurt, salads, and other prepared foods. Having these products available can tie in the breakroom experience into a company’s overall wellness initiatives.

According to an article by Kiosk Marketplace2, What makes micromarkets so unique, is not only the convenience of an accessible and healthy lunch option, but the fact that they utilize a self-service model—one that relies on an 'honor system' where employees are expected to pay for their purchases with cash, credit or even via their cell phone without an attendant or cashier on-site.”

So why choose a micromarket over traditional vending machines?

Some of the benefits include:

  • Better inventory management ,due to web-based tracking, ensuring fresh products and up-to-date regulatory practices.
  • Components can be customized to fit different locations.
  • Operators can use retail tools and techniques to ensure the strategic placement of add-on purchase items near to the check-out kiosks. This will lead to increased profits.
  • Less maintenance of machines and easier purchase of multiple items.
  • Flexible payment options, including credit card, employee card or by fingerprint.
  • Portions of accounts can be funded by HR, Wellness, or other workplace programs with a mandate directed at healthy eating and increased productivity.

However, there is one downfall of this type of business model. Micromarket products are often more expensive than products found in a traditional vending machine. They typically cost 15 percent to 20 percent more, and add sales tax. Increased pricing is usually set to offset the cost incurred due to theft of items, product spoilage, and the additional equipment, and software that is needed.

The moral of the story? If you want to keep your employees healthy and happy, micromarkets may be a worthy investment.

References

  • Younger Consumers Endorse Healthy Food With a Willingness to Pay a Premium. Newswire. www.nielsen.com/us/en/insights/news/2015/younger-consumers-endorse-healthy-foods-with-a-willingness-to-pay.html. Accessed April 4, 2018.
  • Wilson, K. Micro markets vs traditional vending machines. Kiosk Marketplace website. https://www.kioskmarketplace.com/blogs/micro-markets-vs-traditional-vending-machines/. Accessed April 4, 2018.