Did you ever imagine the next billion-dollar consumer category would start in a little tiny hotel pantry? When you learn the story of a tiny company called Nightfood Holdings (OTCQB), you’ll believe that’s exactly what could happen.
Just picture that little hotel lobby shop where they sell the chips and energy drinks. Are you seeing any healthy options in your imagination? Probably not. Of course, they have plenty of Sour Patch Kids and Haagen Dazs and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, but where are the kinds of healthier options that modern consumers seek?
Everybody knows the cookies, chips, candy, and ice cream so many people eat at night are generally unhealthy. But did you know that high-sugar, high-fat, and high-calorie snacks, when eaten before bed, can directly impair sleep quality?
You probably realize that hotels invest billions to deliver the best quality sleep for their guests. Upgraded beds, mattresses, pillows, and linens…blackout curtains, white noise machines, eye masks, ear plugs…after all, sleep is at the core of the hotel experience.
So why are the snack shops and vending machines in the 56,000 hotels across the United States loaded up with sleep-impairing snacks? There doesn’t seem to be a very good answer…and it’s a problem for travelers, but also a problem for the hotel brands themselves.
Appealing To Customer Needs And Demands
As reported by HOTELS Magazine in May 2023, frequent business travelers are not happy with the snacks available in most hotel lobby markets.
Some of the key statistics:
55% were dissatisfied with the typical hotel snack selection
92% said hotels should have more healthy options
85% said they’d buy more snacks if hotels had more healthy options
73% described the typical hotel snack selection as either “unhealthy” or “very unhealthy”
77% of travelers said their perception of a hotel brand was influenced by the lobby shop snacks available
That last one is the key. Clearly, there’s more at stake here than just a few extra pennies in snack revenue.
Hotels are losing brand equity every time a guest walks out of that shop dissatisfied…even if they bought something, they’re often not happy with the assortment and what they were “forced” to buy for lack of better choices!!
Think about it…a handful of multi-billion dollar giants make up the majority of the US hotel industry. You know the names: Marriott (NYSE: MAR), Hilton (NYSE: HLT), Intercontinental, Choice, Wyndham, Hyatt (NYSE: H), Sonesta, Best Western.
Competition is fierce. They fight tooth and nail for every % of market share, every extra point on a customer satisfaction index.
When one chain starts putting irons in their rooms, everybody puts irons in the rooms. When one chain upgrades its beds, everybody upgrades their beds. When one chain puts in a waffle maker for breakfast, everybody puts in a waffle maker for breakfast.
So what will happen when one chain steps up its lobby markets and introduces sleep-friendly nighttime snacks?
Guess what, that just started. And the opportunity for investors right now starts in the hotel lobby shop, but has massive potential.
The Nighttime Snack Category Opportunity
The company bringing sleep-friendly nighttime snacks to hotels has set its focus on the more than $50 billion American adults spend every year on nighttime snacks. That company is called Nightfood
Obviously, only a small portion of that is spent in hotels.
But hotels are a critical piece of the puzzle because Nightfood is leveraging hotel distribution to put itself in a position to dominate the nighttime snack market. After all, if you see Nightfood sleep-friendly snacks in every major hotel when you travel, isn’t that the brand you’d trust when shopping in the supermarket?
There’s a gamble on whether “nighttime snacks” will ever become a category. And, if so, how big will it get? One hundred million? Five hundred million? One billion? More…?
Again, there’s over $50 billion spent annually on nighttime snacks. Many estimates indicate it could be over $65 billion. In fact, a recent Sleep Foundation study reported that the average American adult snacks 3.9 times per week. Knowing that there are almost 260 million adults in the USA, it’s easy to do the math and see we’re over one billion snacks consumed before bed every week. And growing.
So why is Nightfood the only company paying attention?
Guess what…they’re not!
Attention From The Industry Giants
In 2019, Nestlé (OTC Pink: NSRGY) launched a candy-type sleep-aid called GoodNight. It’s no longer on the market.
In 2020, Pepsi (NYSE: PEP) announced the launch of a “relaxation” drink called Driftwell. It’s no longer on the market.
In January 2023, Post Holdings introduced a cereal called Sweet Dreams which includes a “nighttime herbal blend”. Will it last longer than the others? We don’t know, but obviously, these companies sense a sizeable opportunity.
Executives from global snack giants Mondelez (Oreo, Ritz), Kellogg’s, Pepsi, Nestlé, Unilever (NYSE: UL), and more have commented either on nighttime snack habits or the link between nutrition and sleep.
So maybe there is a billion-dollar category there? We don’t know yet because, to date, nobody has been able to crack the code.
But then, none of them ever launched in hotels. Until now.
Nightfood sleep-friendly ice cream is in select locations of Courtyard by Marriott, Hyatt House, Holiday Inn Express, Sonesta, and many other global hotel chains.
And, in March 2023, Nightfood announced it had attained qualified vendor status with Choice Hotels, which recently acquired Radisson. Their 7,500 hotels globally make them one of the largest lodging franchisors in the world.
Not surprisingly, sleep-friendly ice cream sells in hotels. Nightfood reported that independent point-of-purchase sales data from industry leader Impulsfy showed that in hotels where Nightfood was head-to-head with Haagen Dazs, and no other pint brands were sold, Nightfood captured an impressive 38% of pint sales against the legendary 60-year old global brand.
A Formidable Player Emerging
Could Nightfood compete like that against Haagen Dazs or Ben & Jerry’s in supermarkets? Not likely. But Nightfood has very strategically picked a battleground where it can thrive. In hotels, when people are buying snacks for immediate consumption in that hour or two before bed, sleep-friendly Nightfood has a clear competitive advantage. And so it sells.
Nightfood recently introduced cookies in addition to their ice cream. Their goal is for hotels to have sleep-friendly versions of all the popular nighttime snack categories: ice cream pints, cookies, chips, candy, single-serve ice cream novelties, snack bars, and more. Such a broad product line from such an early-stage company would be impossible in supermarkets…but you can just imagine walking into a hotel market and seeing sleep-friendly snacks across multiple formats.
From there, when widespread hotel distribution is in place, the brand can then launch into mainstream retail, where its hotel distribution can provide a significant competitive and strategic advantage over other brands, even those that might be launched by much larger food companies.
So when Nightfood announced earlier this year that they had begun a proof-of-concept test phase with Nestlé START and CO. Iberia, maybe some pieces were starting to come together. The objective of Nestlé START and CO is to “identify and select startups that want to grow by exploiting synergies and thus create new paths and future businesses in partnership with Nestlé.”
Nestlé is the largest food and beverage company in the world. If Nightfood starts to gain traction and has a relationship with Nestlé, things could get very interesting.
Nightfood as a Check-In Amenity
Nightfood recently announced that an international hotel chain with hundreds of locations in the United States has begun testing Nightfood cookies as a check-in amenity at some of their hotels.
If this pilot test is successful, that chain is expected to launch Nightfood nationally.
The best part about amenity revenue is that it’s the hotel buying in bulk and then giving the product away to guests. That means much faster and more predictable revenue than securing placement in hotel lobby shop stores that might sell a few units per week.
If launched, this initiative is expected to generate six figures in monthly recurring revenue.
What’s more, every month, hundreds of thousands of frequent travelers would be receiving Nightfood as a gift at check-in. What would that do for brand awareness? And how might that exposure and trial drive accelerated Nightfood lobby shop sales across the industry?
If the results of the test are positive, that could be a huge catalyst for the brand in terms of revenue, distribution, and category control.
The Nightfood Future
For investors, this is a category play. Do you believe there’s a category coming in nighttime snacks?
If you’re a nighttime snacker, you probably understand exactly why this is so appealing. It’s frustrating to work hard to make healthy choices all day long, only to mess it all up at night in a few minutes…and then repeat that pattern day after day for decades on end.
We know almost everybody snacks at night. We know the most popular choices are high in sugar, fat, and calories. And we know most people really wish they could sleep better most nights.
Will people who snack at night choose snacks formulated by sleep experts to be a better choice for anybody snacking at night?
Can Nightfood expand and excel in the hotel space? If so, can they generate enough traction in the Hiltons and Marriotts to make the leap to the Krogers and the Albertsons? It’s likely.
And if they can and put themselves in a position to lead the new category they’re pioneering, what would that be worth to a Nestlé or a Mondelez or a Kellogg’s? Probably quite a bit. It stands to reason that every major snack company in the world would want to dominate this new category. Most likely, only one will. And the strategic value of the brand that pioneers the category could be massive. In other words, for investors, especially the ones early to Nightfood, that could mean sweet dreams, indeed.
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