C-store Foodservice Must Do More to Entice Snackers

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C-store Foodservice Must Do More to Entice Snackers

By Linda Lisanti, Convenience Store News - 04/20/2015

NATIONAL REPORT — Convenience store operators are leaving money on the table today by not doing enough in their foodservice programs to attract, satisfy and become the hottest destination for snackers.

Only 22 percent of recent convenience store snack purchases include prepared foods, according to the findings of a joint consumer research study commissioned by Tyson Convenience Foodservice and Anheuser-Busch. A summary of the findings was revealed during the 2015 Convenience Store News Foodservice Summit, held in partnership with Tyson Convenience Foodservice in March.

The “p.m. snack” daypart (after 2 p.m.) is especially open for more convenience foodservice business. The research showed 46 percent of convenience store visits happen after 2 p.m., and 50 percent of convenience store snack purchases happen between 2 p.m. and 10 p.m.

“The traffic is there. They’re visiting the stores then. They’re buying snacks, but convenience stores are not connecting as well as they could on the prepared food side,” Kevin Miller, senior marketing manager of Tyson Convenience Foodservice, noted during his presentation at the Foodservice Summit.

To improve, c-store retailers must understand what drives consumers’ p.m. snacking. According to the research, it’s a combination of both physical needs and emotional needs.

The physical needs relate to:

  • Taste;
  • Satisfy;
  • Ease of eating;
  • Affordable; and
  • Fresh.

The emotional needs relate to:

  • Habit;
  • Distraction;
  • Indulgence; and
  • Reward.

When comparing prepackaged snacks at convenience stores to prepared food snacks, it’s clear that prepackaged snacks are currently winning out in the areas of habit and distraction. However, prepared food snacks are winning over consumers in the areas of indulgence and reward.

In the area of habit (habitual snacking, daily fix, etc.), c-store prepared food is missing the mark due to a lack of awareness. Offerings need to become more top-of-mind among shoppers.

Meanwhile, in the area of distraction (completely easy, mindless eating, etc.), convenience foodservice has to do a better job of incorporating ease into everything — the food, eating, packaging and portability. It’s a major challenge given the on-the-go nature of c-store customers who often dine in their cars, but the hurdle can be cleared with some consideration.

For more study findings, look in the Convenience Store News Guide to Snacking, coming in May.