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Survey reveals No. 1 reason people shop at convenience stores

If convenience stores want to compete and grow, they will need to increase their share of the food-service market, including adding healthier options.

That’s according to a survey by global consulting firm AlixPartners, which finds that food-service (prepared foods, hot/cold/frozen dispensed beverages, etc.) is the number one driver (27%) for consumer purchases at c-stores, followed by packaged beverages (17%) and cigarettes (13%).

Foodservice dining/purchases frequency has been on a strong growth trajectory, with a compound annual growth rate of 13.2% since 2012. But to maintain their growth, c-stores need to move beyond the 52.9% of people who purchase for snacks (42.6%) or late night (10.3%) and compete more for breakfast, lunch and dinner business, the report recommends. To do that, healthier options are necessary, with 45.6% of consumers saying “better for you” options are important to them.

And, a big challenge looms on the horizon for c-stores in the form of Amazon Go, Amazon’s new cashier-less c-store concept. More than 43% of survey respondents said if an Amazon Go opened nearby, they would shop at traditional c-stores less.

In other findings from AlixPartners; Convenience-Store Consumer Survey:

• Consumers’ most important factors in selecting a c-store to purchase a meal are location (21%), price (18%), and food quality (14%). Divided by age group, however, older consumers are most focused on location and convenience, while millennials and Gen X identified price and food quality as their top considerations.

• The most important technology offerings a c-store can have are mobile loyalty programs, self check-out and mobile coupons.

• Drive-thru windows, in-store dining area and delivery ranked among important innovations.
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