The new year has come and with it predictions of growth in the convenience store industry. These 5 c-store trends are hot topics for operators and hold massive potential to help you grow in 2020 and beyond.
1. Quality Before Quantity
Halfway through the 2010s, the retail and grocery industries began to see a major shift in consumer purchases, particularly in what influenced their decisions. In the early part of the decade, fashion retail especially was churning out cheaply made products in as many varieties as they could. In the middle of the decade, a focus on sustainability and quality began to shape consumer purchases.
According to Brandwatch, consumers say ‘quality’ is the most important attribute they care about when making a purchase of both fashion and grocery products with ‘affordability’ and ‘convenience’ following close behind.
Convenience store managers should respond to this trend by adding higher quality products to their inventory. Do some research and find out what your customers are interested in trying most. Minimalist branding and sustainability are catching the attention of younger customers, so cater to them. Place beverages that have a sleek design and snacks that use sustainable packaging at the top of your shelves to catch more eyes.
2. Better-For-You Options to Snack On
Sales of better-for-you or healthy food options grew in 2019. Products like health bars, nuts, fruits, and even yogurt have grown in popularity throughout c-stores across the nation. Convenience store managers can stay on top of the trend by adding healthy products to shelves, but also having healthy food-service options like sandwiches, salads, and vegetable plates available for meals. Operators should keep in mind that the majority of convenience store food products are purchased for immediate consumption.
45% of c-store operators surveyed by NACS marked breakfast as their largest opportunity to grow sales in 2020, with lunch and dinner marked by 26% and 23% respectively. Two-thirds of c-store shoppers said they look for healthy snacks and meals that can be taken on the go during commutes and work-day breaks.
3. EV Charging Stations Keep Generating Buzz
EV fast-charging stations have been installed here and there at convenience stores across the country, and while electric vehicle sales are not expected to break past gasoline vehicles sales anytime soon, charging stations continue to pop up as demand grows.
The Midwest is strategically located for this growth. Great distances between major cities and travel hubs mean more EV chargers are needed to meet the needs of drivers. Casey’s General Stores in Iowa expanded their charging stations across five cities in 2019 and expect to add chargers in thirteen more in 2020.
More charging stations are obviously great for drivers but also carry financial incentives for convenience stores. Monetary grants put toward installation, tax credits, and rebate programs can all help owners cover the cost of adding chargers. While programs vary by state, these incentive programs continue to grow and gain more attention in the industry.
4. Mobile Apps Pulling Gas Customers Inside
Mobile loyalty programs are everywhere and are gaining traction in convenience stores as well. The largest advantage of providing loyalty programs is the ability to collect customer data and create personalized offers to customers beyond just a few cents off a gallon.
GetUpside’s, a c-store mobile app offering discounts on gasoline purchases, beta-tests show that users make twice as many in-store purchases as those without the app.
5. CBD Products Lighting Up
The cannabis business is picking up in c-stores. The NACS is holding sessions on CBD, hemp, and edibles as the ‘new category’ of the c-store industry. But while CBD popularity is growing fast, sellers should be aware of the risks as regulations and restrictions vary by state.
UK based CBD company Goodbody Botanicals states, “The biggest hurdle for CBD companies currently and moving into the near future is improving education and awareness around the end consumer.” However, the buck doesn’t stop there. As products are added to US c-store shelves, employees must be ready and able to answer questions like “What is CBD?”, “Is it marijana?”, and “How will it make me feel?”.
Although expected to continue trending throughout 2020, there’s still little information on exactly how CBD product marketing will play out in the industry. This is a category of products sure to be approached carefully and slowly by potential sellers.
Want to see more insights like this? Remain informed on the latest trends for retail, restaurants and convenience stores through the Action Card App blog.