Although c-stores position themselves as the ultimate destination for convenience, recent Mintel research uncovered that 33% of consumers who have never bought food at a c-store haven’t done so because they believe it is low-quality food.
When consumers think of convenience stores, food quality isn’t the first thing that comes to mind, said Eric Giandelone, director of foodservice research at Mintel. “Improved quality — not just for products but for service, location and marketing communications — is needed to bring in or bring back consumers for whom c-stores aren’t top-of-mind choices,” he added.
Regarding people who don’t buy processed food at convenience stores, 64% said they never or rarely consider purchasing food from a c-store. Thirty-two percent said the food was not appealing to them and 26% said high prices are too high. Thirty-five percent said there were better food options nearby.
Convenience stores are always going to face competition from restaurants, especially fast-food establishments, Giandelone said. “Luckily, convenience store foodservice suffered less than restaurants did during the recession and we forecast this $22.8 million dollar industry to experience 4.1% growth in 2011,” he added.
At present, c-stores are most popular for their beverage options. Fifty-eight percent of consumers say they purchase fountain beverages, 52% purchase coffee drinks and 44% purchase “slushies” or other frozen beverages. Regarding consumers who buy c-store food, hot dogs (38%) and pizza (33%) are the most popular food purchases. And 28% buy made-to-order sandwiches, 26% grab nachos while 25% of shoppers opt for chicken wings or tenders.