Consumers who shop at convenience stores want fresher, healthier food options, according to new research. In the nationwide survey of more than 1,000 consumers, 1 in 3 Americans would frequent 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
• Survey respondents noted greater product variety (30 percent) and better product quality (20 percent) as where they seek improvements, followed by cleanliness at 16 percent.
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. The 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.
“These survey results underscore the importance of high-quality facilities management programs for accommodating changes in consumer buying patterns. Food service and beverage equipment including ovens, refrigeration, coffee and drink dispensers are key to enhancing the overall customer experience,” said Jim Reavey, President & CEO, Vixxo. “Convenience stores that offer consumers more variety and quality will command the greatest loyalty and grow their businesses.”
Convenience Store Purchase Preferences
For convenience store shoppers, almost half (45 percent) said they “grab and go.” However, more than one-third of respondents (39 percent) browse for new items. And a small percentage (16 percent) said they tend to hang around a store and visit, demonstrating the importance of product variety and new choices.
While many respondents don’t buy prepared foods at convenience stores, nearly all respondents (96 percent) buy beverages. Coffee is the most popular choice (32 percent), followed by bottled soda (19 percent), fountain beverages (14 percent), and bottled water (13 percent).
Customers also are looking to fuel up for their daily drive. The survey revealed that 18 percent purchase fuel at convenience stores.