C-Store Foodservice An Aging Challenge

Articles
May 06, 2010

C-Store Foodservice An Aging Challenge

Convenience stores can succeed in foodservice, but it is no certainty for the entire channel, which is a fiercer rival for the grab-and-go-convenience sale than for the eat-at-home-healthier sale.

Convenience stores can succeed in foodservice, but it is no certainty for the entire channel, which is a fiercer rival for the grab-and-go-convenience sale than for the eat-at-home-healthier sale. Formats in the mold of Tesco Fresh & Easy and Marketside by Walmart have more pristine appeals. Supermarkets aggressively merchandise prepared foods. Inconsistent c-store execution makes consumers less enthusiastic to visit when fresh foods are first on their minds. 

It is easy to see the leadership of operators like WaWa, Sheetz and 7-Eleven, but it is more difficult to fully appreciate the rigors of their fresh-food operations that set them apart from much of the channel. If c-stores took to this aspect of their business with the same energy they sell cigarettes and cold beverages, they could leverage their greatest advantages: ubiquity and quick in-and-out visits.

Now comes insight on another tricky element of succeeding in foodservice—matching offers to the lifestage demands of two core demographic groups of c-store shoppers. “Aging Boomers (ages 46 to 64) and young adults (ages 18 to 33) will have significant impact on convenience store foodservice over the next decade,” the NPD Group reports. “The aging dynamics of these segments will alter how, when and why they use c-stores.”

How does this affect fresh-food purchase incidence in c-stores? According to NPD’s Convenience Store Monitor data, the purchase incidence trends down between ages 18 to 33, perks up a bit for ages 34 to 41, stays levels between ages 41 to 65, and declines in older people.  “A retired Boomer is less concerned with convenience, but is looking for healthier food options to meet their dietary needs,” says NPD.

This is a key finding for c-store operators mapping out their strategies. Yet The Lempert Report feels the real launching point for c-store success with fresh foods will be when women express widespread confidence in what they can buy in these outlets and increase their trips and spend as a result.