Consumers Turn to C-stores to Discover New Products & Brands

They rely on c-stores to satisfy their sweet tooth and quench their thirst with candy and beverage purchases.

NEW YORK — American consumers frequent convenience stores at least once a week and use their visits as a way to discover new products and brands, according to a new survey commissioned by NCSolutions (NCS).

The online survey of 2,216 respondents, ages 18 and older, fielded from Oct. 7–10, found that more than seven in 10 (71 percent) adult consumers say they discover new products and brands at c-stores.

Additionally, nearly four in 10 (38 percent) respondents shop at c-stores two or more times a week. Overall, nearly two-thirds (62 percent) visit c-stores at least once a week.

"These new consumer insights accentuate the considerable role convenience stores play in America today. At the c-store, the shopping moment is low risk for the consumer and high opportunity for brands," said Alan Miles, CEO of NCSolutions, a leading company for improving advertising effectiveness for the consumer packaged goods (CPG) ecosystem. "With mostly single-serve portions, consumers are looking for products on the go. It is a perfect place to engage and secure new brand buyers and identify the viability of new products."

Key findings of the survey reveal:

C-stores provide a good shopping experience and value.

American consumers find shopping at c-stores offers numerous benefits. Seventy-nine percent of shoppers say c-stores offer a lot of product variety, while 77 percent say they provide a good shopping experience. Sixty-three percent see c-stores as delivering good value for their budgets.

It's all about the experience and delivery for Generation Z.

CPG brands looking to engage Gen Z can tap into this generation's favorable view of convenience stores. Ninety-one percent of Gen Zers say c-stores provide a good shopping experience.

They're also more likely to use a delivery service for c-store items, with almost half (49 percent) reporting they have used a service such as 7-Eleven Inc.'s 7-NOW, Instacart, DoorDash, Uber and other delivery services. This is 96 percent higher than all Americans who reported using a delivery service (25 percent) for c-store shopping.

Location, Location, Location

Americans visit convenience stores for various reasons, but location is the number one reason, cited by 65 percent of consumers. Fifty-nine percent say c-stores meet their immediate needs, while 54 percent like that they can conduct transactions quickly and be on their way.

Nearly one-third (30 percent) say price brings them into the store, while 28 percent enjoy the variety of products c-stores have to offer. Thirty-four percent also shop at c-stores because they are less crowded.

"The c-store channel offers a compelling potential for CPG brands to motivate new buyers to try their products. It's an especially attractive channel to reach the Gen Z consumer, who is very loyal to c-stores," said NCSolutions Chief Revenue Officer Dan Malmed. "Appealing to Gen Z c-store enthusiasts enables advertisers to build and drive loyalty as well as improve the return on ad spend of their campaigns."

Satisfying Their Sweet Tooth & Quenching Their Thirsts

More than two-thirds (67 percent) of Americans feed their sweet tooth with candy purchases from convenience stores, and many rely on c-stores as a place to quench their thirst. Fifty-seven percent of consumers said they purchase on-the-go drinks like coffee, tea or fountain beverages at c-stores, while 40 percent buy milk, juice and other staples. In addition, 32 percent pick up packaged beverages and 23 percent buy beer.

Beyond beverages, almost one third (30 percent) pick up prepared foods while in the store and 37 percent purchase lottery tickets.

Getting Social

Consumer purchase behaviors are also influenced by what they see on social media. Seventy percent of c-store shoppers say they’re more likely to purchase products they see promoted on c-store social media channels.

NCSolutions' full report is available here.