Small Booths, Big Ideas

Sure, there were mammoth setups at the NACS show at McCormick Place in Chicago last month. 
Some, like the energy drink makers whose legions of gorgeous gals were sporting free samples, boasted booths worthy of their own postal code. Likewise with the Dresser Wayne and Gilbarco Veeder-Root displays, whose setups offered a cornucopia of innovative dispenser technologies retailers could tinker with to learn new ideas. 
Sometimes, though, the biggest and hottest ideas came in the smallest booths. Take a few of these, for instance: 
Smart Stuff 
On the final day of the show, at a corner lot in the foodservice section, Booth 3662 was hemmed in by a band of retailers who were quietly absorbing a presentation by Michigan-based Hot Logic’s sales manager, Patrick Clifford. 
Hot Logic’s two leading products included the “Souper,” a display that warms nine to 24 cans of soup for customers to take on-the-go, and the “Model 1000,” a food warmer that runs on the same concept as the Souper by heating consumer packaged goods that serve as replacement meals.  
Larry Derrow, vice president and general manager at La Plata, Md.-based Dash-In Convenience Stores, said he was impressed by Hot Logic’s innovation. Hot Logic’s CPG food warmers use a “smart-shelf” heating system where LED lights indicate when a soup or packaged meal has reached the right temperature. 
The concept heats packaged foods in their containers—packages that would ordinarily require a microwave or off-site heating source—and gives consumers the option to eat them immediately after purchase. 
Riding the Big-Brand Wave 
At another corner booth, restaurant giant Bob Evans was showcasing its latest concept to hit the convenience-store world: The Bob Evans Sausage Gravy Dispenser. The dispenser serves heated sausage-gravy, paired with a Bob Evans biscuit. 
Even the hucksters at the NACS show—a team of reporters from satirical news outlet The Onion—couldn’t help but recognize the massive brand success of Bob Evans’ staple breakfast fare, lauding the company’s foray into convenience foodservice in its A.V. Club section. The Onion reporters called it “a big monster machine built for doling out sweet, sweet gravy. We were in awe.” 
Concepts in Cross-Marketing 
At frozen-beverage solutions provider FBD’s booth, representatives were showcasing their latest innovation in cross-marketing: an FBD dispenser with a built-in TV display allowing for in-store advertising at the frozen-beverage dispenser. 
The display’s content could be updated remotely through a network or Internet connection, or simply by downloading right to the system itself via a USB port. 
Cross-marketing solutions in the retail world are sprouting up on everything from napkin dispensers to window squeegees. Notable among the cross-marketing solutions at the NACS Show: “Frozen Billboards,” by AllOver Media. 
The concept affixes an advertising veneer to icebox exteriors, allowing retailers to turn static, unsightly equipment into effective advertising vehicles.

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