Skip to main content

Global Trends To Impact Customers


Special offers, discounts, loyalty programs and portion control effect retailers around the world

Most thrive convenience on hyper-local stores sales, may but global consumer trends recently identified by Mintel may offer long-term opportunities just around the corner.

The effects of the global economic crisis have had long-reaching implications, explained Alexandra Smith, Mintel's global trends analyst. Key trends c-store operators should consider include:

Preparing for the worst.

Consumers are thinking defensively. One third of U.S. shoppers said they're using debit rather than credit to keep themselves out of financial trouble, Mintel reported. Not only are total transaction fees affected, but as the number of debit purchases rises-they grew nearly 60 percent between 2000 and 2010 - the trend offers retailers another opportunity. There may be a call for more reward programs centered on debit cards, rather than credit cards, Smith said.

Retail Rebirth.

In the United States, 35 percent of consumers say their choice of store is determined by special offers or discounts, Mintel reported. To compete on a field other than price, retailers must get more creative and offer more than just products and a venue. Service could extend into demonstrations; exclusivity and environment may engage consumers. "Famima!! in Los Angeles, is all about creating a cool, funky place [unlike the typical] 7-Eleven," Smith noted. "If we see more of that, there could be more thought about getting people to linger a bit to buy more."

No Degree, No Problem.

Economic uncertainty and the cost of a college degree will mean alternative channels for learning will gain credibility. For retailers, this may mean offering employees more lifelong learning opportunities, corporate-sponsored degrees and investing in employees through education and training rather than salary or benefits.

A grocery chain in England has offered some employees who feel trapped in dead-end positions the opportunity to earn a "degree" within the company, setting them up for promotion to more senior or managerial roles. "C-store operators should be thinking about providing upward mobility to people who are looking more strategically about their education," Smith said.

Retired for Hire.

Either out of financial need or an attachment to a lifestyle, people are working beyond retirement age. With half of Americans having no retirement account, the number of people over the age of 65 working will reach nearly 20 percent by 2014. "When you think about having more older consumers in the workplace, you will see an older on-the-go customer," Smith noted.

The Big Issue.

The country's attitude toward weight is pitting the rise of the super-healthy against the eternal appeal of indulgence. The year will see more products catering to an obese market, touting portion control or offering more information on low-cost healthy fare. While some fast feeders, such as KFC, are selling both extreme-eating items, such as the 540-calorie Double Down sandwich, and healthier fare, this bipolar positioning has not always been successful. "While Double Down sales have been good, the brag-about-how-much-you-are-eating strategy has not been successful, as KFC overall sales are down," Smith noted. "McDonald's hasn't taken that tact, it just offers all types of options, and has better sales. The best way to go is to transcend the argument and give customers lots to choose from and information on those products."

For comments, please contact Barbara Grondin Francella, Senior Editor, [email protected].

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds