Mark Feehan the owner of the Snack Revolution wrote this to offer advice based on his experience working in the snack industry for snacks in retail, bars, and hotels.

After spending most of my career working in sales for Mondelez Europe. I was trained in how the create the very best Cadbury confectionery displays and how to help my customers sell more sweets.

After a few years, I knew that my customers understood that I was an expert in helping them make more profit. If you just accept second best then your customer will lose money I was always told!

Nobody wants to be second best and this was simply not an option for me and my customers. I always pushed myself to work closely with all my customers. On a few occasions, this led to disputes about where we would locate our promotions but my customers always understood I wanted them to maximize their impulse sales.  Normally we would only need to trial a given promotion for a week or two. Then after a gentle reminder in cash value about how much extra impulse sales we had lost, we would all agree that positioning snacks in a high footfall location was always best for more impulse sales when selling snacks.

BIGGER IS BETTER we would say! This was a term we used not to talk about our ego of course. It was simply about the bigger your display the more products you will sell. These were words we all began to breathe. The competition between our team of salesmen kept us going through all those late nights. Driving back home from a display at midnight did not always feel so bad, cause deep down inside you knew you had just created the biggest and best display in the country.

Not fully understanding at the time we were building the biggest and best displays in the world. I know you're probably thinking this could never happen in a small country like Ireland. Well, now I understand why the small country of Ireland needs to work so hard. With only 4.5 million potential customers in the Republic of Ireland, we had to make every display work as hard as we could to drive extra impulse sales.

Location is key was another phrase we really had to understand from our early few displays. If we didn't know where to put different types of products in key locations, we were not doing our job correctly. I remember my first week as a young rep, I placed an impulse stand away from the tills near some light bulbs. My reason for taking this second-best location was my day started at 7 am and it was after 8 pm that evening. A young manager at the time said "just put it there" he probably had the same long day I had and just wanted to go home. On my drive home I called my manager to go through my day. When I said where the dump was located, I was told to turn back the car! Needless to say, tears nearly came but as the years went on I began to understand why a great salesperson never accepts second best.

It's not about being a bully and always pushing for the best location. I understand that retailers must sell other products too. In my first few years I probably was a little bit of a bully never accepting second best, but as time went on you began to understand every area of each shop in a territory. Armed with the expert knowledge of your customer's full shop is key to winning this battle. A young rep should always know what’s going on in every part of a customer's shop. If you know this, you will help support your customers and they will support you with the biggest and best displays you could only dream of before.

The display is king is an excellent phrase used by Cadbury people. Get the best display and the sales will follow. I am not trying to teach people "how to suck eggs" but merely wanted to share some of my experience with the excellence of best displays I believe will always stay with me. I must say I started this note thinking about why in my experience of the UK do stores accept what I would consider very poor display’s?

My first thought on this is the UK has a population of nearly 64 million. Does a country this size need to worry about second class confectionery displays? I live in London a place where grocery shops open next to grocery shops. Yes, I firmly believe they need to step up and stop accepting poor impulse displays. "Shoppers buy with their eyes" if your display looks run down and messy people will not buy from it! Therefore, London shop owners are losing money every day in my opinion. The UK population has more females than males, a key target market for small impulse bars of confectionery. These small little bars that do not mean much too many of us, are in fact one of the most profitable retail stores. Get this part right and a small shop will make more money.

My final and one of the greatest phrases ever told to me was "counter is king". It's simple really put your impulse products near your number one till and on the counter. If you do this your sales could increase by 70%! Also, my advice is to allow space for at least 96" of confectionery space on your counter. Use the layouts suggested by Cadbury, they really do work! A good rep that cares about your business will advise you to block by the manufacturer. This means 48" for Cadbury in position one near your number one till. Then Mars 24" display & finally Nestle and others the balance. Keep your display topped up and do not fill empty space with other products, the reason why they have sold out is people want them and they work in that space.

If you have taken the time to read this, I hope that even one part of it helps you make more money. The guidelines I have shared are just a fraction of ways we can all help each other to make more money. The economy has been hit hard over the years and I feel we should all help each other to be the best we can. I learn every day from different types of experience in this industry. I now understand more than ever how hard it really is to become the best. We spend everyday fighting to be the top of our industry, but I believe that if we share more experience, we can help others also looking to reach their goals.

The above advice is also very transferrable into pub snacks.  Considering the high footfall position for pub snack displays is key for growing sales.  Traditionally pubs place snacks behind the bar counter, this will lead to reduced sales as around 70% of snack purchases are bought on impulse.

Creating colorful displays and offering a range to suit every type of potential customer drives sales.  Male's, females & kids all want to buy different bar snacks.  If you stick to traditional snack offerings, you will not grab the attention of consumers and they will not stay in your business as long as they should.

Thinking differently about bar snacks and offering new products to grab attention is why the biggest producers in the world launch new products all the time.  If you do not keep consumers interested they will eat snacks elsewhere.  

I am always happy to advise and share my thoughts with people who want to sell more products. Thank you for reading.

Mark Feehan – Founder Of Snack Revolution