If you are an owner or a manager, you know full well that one must stay alert and aware of trends, culture and changes in the ever-flexing business of retail convenience. Here are four things successful C-stores do:
#1. STOCK UP ON KNOWLEDGE
Successful C-Store owners keep up with the latest industry trends and issues such as the rising cost of credit card fees or how consumers are expecting C-Stores to become more like restaurants?For example, something as simple as knowing that convenience stores that sell fresh fruit are more appealing to consumers who forget to have breakfast and are stopping in on their way to work can help you adjust your offerings and increase those morning sales.
So, stay informed about industry trends, issues and changes through industry publications and blogs.
#2. RESPECT THE CONVENIENCE STORE GENDER GAP
Did you know that a few small changes in product selection and merchandising could help you make a lot more money? A recent study found that most C-Stores focus on men shoppers. However, it might surprise you to learn the different things that interest men vs. what interests women. Some industry experts think women are a large and often missed market opportunity.
- Shopping Frequency. Men are the most frequent convenience store shoppers, with 12% saying they shop at a convenience store “almost every day,” while 23% say it’s “two or three times a week.” For women, 7% reported almost daily trips and 11% estimated making two or three trips a week.
- Preferred Purchases. The most popular items purchased by both women and men at C-stores are gasoline, candy/gum and soda.
- Men had distinct preferences for certain items relative to women, including prepared/fast food (32% vs. 26%t), lottery tickets (30% to 24%), beer (20% to 11%), sports drinks (13% to 8%), and ice cream (10% to 6%).
- Women (23%) were not as keen as men (29%) to pick up a lottery ticket while at a c-store, but more women (16%) admitted going to the c-store to use the bathroom than men (10%).
- Trip Purpose. About half (46%) of those surveyed combined trips to C-stores while doing other errands.
- Women shoppers did more of this multi-destination shopping (50%) compared to men (42%).
- Male shoppers were frequent customers while traveling to/from work or school (50%) and on business trips (16%).
- Loyalty Programs. About 43% of women surveyed said they would be more likely to shop or increase spending at a convenience store if there were coupon offers available, while 35% of men agreed. Frequent buyer/loyalty programs are also of interest, but to a lesser extent (29% of women favored them vs. 23% of men).
Understanding the gender-based buying patterns of your customers will help you adjust marketing plan to present products that appeal to a particular gender.
#3. PROFILE THEIR STORE’S MARKETS
C-store owners often serve many local markets from the same store. One store might have customers that walk in, some that drive a short distance and maybe daily commuters cruising down the interstate or riding a nearby bus or train. Each of these C-Store target markets can have different incomes, family styles, and product preferences. Here are several examples of customer-types that may frequent your store:
- The Jones’. They’re your regulars. They’re in the C-store because of life’s simple addictions. Yes, maybe a pack a Marlboros, but also a Gatorade, a Diet Coke or that daily bag of Doritos. Mr. Jones is in search of the immediate satisfaction that comes only from that one key item.
- The Neighbor. For these people, the C-store is their community center. Their trip is a ritualistic part of their day. They’re often on a first-name basis with the clerks. For them, the experience of being in the store matters. It’s all about familiarity.
- The Last Minute Shopper. Your significant other calls and says “can you grab milk on your way home?” You are now this person. They rarely look at the clerk or others shopping. They are on a mission and can often seem uncomfortable in the store environment. They want to get in and get out.
- The Thrill seeker. This need state is every marketers dream. They just want products that tap into their desire for emotion, uniqueness, personalization and frankly — excitement.
Knowing your market can help improve your C Store merchandising efforts and, ultimately, increase sales and profits.
#4. MAP THEIR COMPETITION
Do you know where your competitors’ stores are? If your store pulls customers from a big market area, you’ll want to keep a close eye on your competition. Know what they’re offering or what’s trending in their stores. Know their pricing and special offers. If you need assistance with Market Research Services, visit http://www.sbdcnet.org/market-research-services.
At the PES Design Group our mission is: “Designing functionally innovative, attractive and profitable c-store and food service facilities on time and on budget”. Our promise to you is, that whatever your project may be, we will approach it as unique. We will use our years of experience to design innovation and uniqueness into your project helping you to set yourself apart from the rest. We will also use innovation to solve challenging issues such as space, time and budget constraints.
About the Consultant
Jim Richards (Jr) is the Managing Member of Cademan Enterprises, LLC and Food Service Consultant with PES Design Group’s Southeast Office. During his 25 years of experience in the Food Service Design Industry, Jim has encountered countless design challenges that he has successfully overcome through experience and innovation.