Consumers who shop at convenience stores want fresher, healthier food options, according to new research from facilities management leader Vixxo. In the nationwide survey of more than 1,000 consumers, 1 in 3 Americans would frequently visit a convenience store more if it offered healthy snack items. The study also found that Americans tend not to be loyal to a specific location, but rather visit multiple convenience stores on a regular basis, emphasizing the value of desired products to drive growth. In expressing their desire for more variety:
- 32 percent of consumers want to see more healthy snack items offered at their convenience store
- 63 percent of consumers said they would favor convenience stores that offered more fruits and vegetables
- 68 percent said they would more frequently visit stores that offered healthy sandwiches and salads
Customer Experience Drives Brand Loyalty
Vixxo also found that Americans visit multiple stores on a regular basis, making differentiated product offerings and a consistent experience important to building brand loyalty. The emphasis on customer loyalty comes at a time when convenience stores factor more prominently into American life. They study found that nearly two-thirds (61 percent) of respondents visit a convenience store at least once a week, with almost a quarter (22 percent) visiting a convenience store daily. Yet Americans also exercise considerable choice with which stores they visit. Less than one in five (15 percent) patronize one preferred store. An overwhelming majority (85 percent) regularly visit multiple stores. More than two in five say they go to three or more stores on a regular basis, including during commutes, road trips or lunch breaks.
Brand loyalty is one of the top selling points for convenience stores, this mainly is due to the vast array of product offerings that consumers are looking for when they walk into a convenience store. A convenience store that offers attractive food offerings and products will have a greater chance of retaining customers and cultivate customer loyalty than convenience stores that only offer a limited number of products with a dull selection of products.
Keeping ‘convenience’ in convenience stores
Just because there are a wide variety of products doesn’t mean people want to spend more time in convenience stores. Efficiency is still important, especially in a fast-paced society where consumers are always trying to get things fast, keeping convenience to a high standard is in the best interest for convenience stores. It is a formula that convenience stores are investing in, people are trying to do more with less time.
Customer expectations across-the-board have changed dramatically due to an “on-demand” culture. Customers want ultimate ease of purchase in all parts of the buying continuum – not just the main transaction or point of sale. And research shows that convenience is quickly emerging as the single biggest driver of long-term customer loyalty. In fact, the customer conversion journey is now being dictated by the convenience factor more than anything else.
The key is to make the product or brand the easiest within your industry to find and use, and this is the ultimate leveraging tool for convenience stores.
Popular Convenience Items
Ice Cream and Dairy Products – Dairy products such as ice cream and milk are popular choices for customers to easily grab at a convenience store instead of walking twice as much to get them at their normal grocery store. Milk, yogurt, and cheese are frequently purchased items that customers will always come back for.
Toiletries – Convenience stores with full ranges of toiletries such as shampoo, toothpaste, tissues, diapers (and much more) make it more appealing for customers with last-minute needs. Drugstore cosmetics are also extremely popular. The combination of cost and convenience make them an irresistible deal.
Hot Food – Many hungry customers who breeze through convenience stores are on a time crunch or taking a break during a long-distance trip. Either way, they’re looking for something quick and easy to eat. Foods like hot dogs, nachos, and breakfast sandwiches are a great option to offer these visitors.
Over-the-Counter Medication – Generally, convenience stores are open longer or earlier than larger grocery stores. If you’ve come down with some ailment late at night or on the road, it’s a no-brainer for you to get some over-the-counter medicine at the nearest convenience store.
Packaged Snacks and Candy – Another popular product category for travelers are packaged snacks such as candy, chips, and nuts. These options are especially necessary for road trippers and those who need a little sustenance to get where they’re going.
Gas and Automotive Supplies – Many convenience stores are attached to a gas station, adding to the ease of stopping your car for gas. If your store is frequented by drivers as a road trip stop, you might want to consider stocking accessories and tools such as wrenches, tire patch kits, lubricants, antifreeze, etc.
Non-Alcoholic Beverages – Bottled water, soda, coffee, and energy drinks are extremely popular products at convenience stores and very profitable. Fountain drinks and slushies are also very lucrative due to their low cost. According to Lenard, over 40% of profit dollars are due to these liquids.
Lottery Tickets – People count on convenience stores and gas stations to be places they can purchase lottery tickets. Lottery tickets are one of the most strategic products you could sell in a convenience store. Selling lottery tickets as a retailer can be a very profitable move in several ways.
Beer and Wine – Alcoholic beverages such as beer and wine are one of the most popular and profitable products found in a convenience store. If someone is strapped for time, they’d rather grab a case of beer at their local gas station than trek to the liquor store.
Tobacco Products – Tobacco products come in all kinds of forms, cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and chewing tobacco. Usually found behind the cashier, it is very easy for convenience stores to sell tobacco products.
Marketing Strategy for Products
Many items that customers can depend on a convenience store to have, is the reason they are drawn to the store, but much of the profit a convenience store makes is from impulse buys. Your convenience store marketing should be crafted around this rule while giving special attention to the most profitable convenience store items.