C-store Customers Fall Into Four Distinct Segments

MINNEAPOLIS — Although no two convenience store shoppers are exactly alike, four distinct consumer segments exist that have their own attitudes, behaviors and needs.

General Mills Convenience & Foodservice has identified these groups to help c-store retailers best serve each one: Breakfast Barons, Vice Squaders, Pit Stoppers and Meals & More.

"These macro consumer segments help convenience retailers get into the mindset of the different types of consumers coming through their door," stated Amy Woulfe, consumer insights associate for General Mills Convenience & Foodservice. "By understanding the nuances of each distinct c-store consumer segment, c-stores can evaluate their product mix, merchandising and promotions in order to win each segment over."

Breakfast Barons

Breakfast Barons account for 22 percent of c-store shoppers who seek to satisfy their workday breakfast needs. They are more likely to look for baked goods, granola bars and coffee, and visit most frequently on weekday mornings. They are also more likely to work at high-paying jobs and frequent c-stores located in urban business districts.

To win them over, retailers should exceed their expectations on the key occasion of weekday breakfast, focusing on variety and quality of breakfast offerings.

Vice Squaders

Liquor, cigarettes and lottery tickets are the main purchases of the 18 percent of c-store shoppers that are Vice Squaders, who are likely to make late-night visits during the week to a store near their home. Members of this group are older, have lower incomes and are more likely to be found in rural and residential locations. They are likely to spend most of their time by the checkout counter since they regularly purchase cigarettes.

Retailers can maximize Vice Squaders by offering an exhaustive selection of alcohol and tobacco products, and plan to reach them at the counter while waiting for tobacco or lottery purchases.

Pit Stoppers

A total of 38 percent of c-store shoppers are on-the-go Pit Stoppers who make quick, in-and-out trips that center on gas, the bathroom and the ATM. Pit Stoppers visit most frequently on weekends in the early afternoon, usually while traveling, and typically visit stores in small towns and residential areas. They are more likely to purchase cold fountain drinks and gum.

Retailers can draw them in starting at the pump and capture their interest along the short path from the bathroom to the checkout with deals on fountain drinks, gum and video rentals, General Mills found.

Meals & More

Twenty-two percent of c-store shoppers fall into the Meals & More group, which consists of young shoppers who visit c-stores in search of meals, particularly lunch and dinner. Meals & More customers look for hot and fresh food, but also enjoy indulging in candy and salty snacks. They frequent urban residential areas closest to where they live and will often visit c-stores that don't offer gas.

They can be won over by offering a variety of fresh, hot meal options and substantial snacks over dinner and lunch, along with basic personal and household items for occasions where they're in a rush.

Nearly 3,200 convenience store food and beverage shoppers aged 18-64 participated in General Mills' nationwide online survey, fielded in November 2014. Consumers were segmented based on self-reported shopping behaviors, including categories purchased, time of day of their visits and the locations of their most visited stores.

Minneapolis-based General Mills Convenience & Foodservice serves the convenience, foodservice and bakery industries.

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