C-store Shoppers Are Not Willing to Pay a Premium for Human Interaction

retail assistance

NEW YORK — In today's increasingly automated, cashier-less world, today's convenience store shoppers are not willing to paying a premium for human interaction.

According to a new study from Engine Insights, a marketing solutions firm headquartered in New York, a quarter or more of consumers indicated they would be willing to pay a premium to ensure the availability of human assistance in their future retail experience with the exception of c-stores.

The online survey — which polled 1,003 U.S. consumers — inquired about eight retail channels: sit down/casual restaurants, fine dining restaurants, grocery stores, electronics stores, clothing/apparel/shoe stores, superstores/department stores, fast food/quick casual restaurants, and convenience stores.

Engine Insights found that roughly two-thirds of consumers (64 percent) would pay a premium for human interaction in at least one of eight major retail and dining categories. This is even higher among younger-age segments, particularly those ages 18 to 34 (74 percent).

On average, the additional amount these consumers are willing to pay for human interaction is 10 percent.

Additionally, from the data, the marketing solutions firm created a new People Premium Index, ranking the channels in terms of the combined effect of consumers' willingness to pay more, along with how much more they're willing to pay.

Among the findings:

  • Fine dining topped the Index: 36 percent of consumers would be willing to pay more for human assistance while fine dining and they'd pay 13 percent more on their bills for it.
  • Sit-down/casual restaurants came in second: 37 percent would be willing to pay for more human interaction, and they'd pay 11 percent more for it.
  • Grocery stores, clothing apparel/shoe stores, superstore/department stores, and electronic stores tied with relatively close numbers. However, grocery stores just edged out the other categories with 28 percent of consumers willing to pay more for human interaction.
  • Even fast food saw some pushback on the growing kiosk trend: 21 percent of consumers would pay more for human interaction and pay an average of 9 percent more for the privilege.

"In a future where the physical retail experience is increasingly automated and devoid of human interaction, brands have the opportunity to leverage the power of human connection to differentiate and capture value through a relative price premium," said Engine Insights CEO Oliver Rust.

The full report can be found here.