Hispanics Emerge as Core C-store Shopper


LOS ANGELES -- By now, it should come as no surprise to anyone that the core convenience store customer is male, between the ages of 18 and 34 and holds a job in a blue-collar field. But what may be surprising is that "Hispanic" is starting to show up in the core list of attributes.

Just who the Hispanic c-store shopper is was a focus of one session at the Hispanic Retail 360 Summit, held in Los Angeles Aug. 15-17. According to Leyhla Ahuile, senior analyst of multicultural reports at Mintel International Group, that shopper is male, 18 to 34 years old and shops at a convenience store at least once week. Those who are Spanish-language dominate spend more on non-gas purchases, while those Hispanic consumers who prefer to speak English spend more on gasoline.

Hispanics' place in the core c-store profile is likely keep growing as new generations turn into consumers. Hispanic teenagers, 12 to 17 years old, are just as likely to shop at a convenience stores and spend just as much as their non-Hispanic counterparts, Ahuile explained.

That profile fits right in line with BP's ampm brand. As Jim Hachtel, senior category manager at BP ampm explained, the brand's core consumers are male (58 percent), multicultural (42 percent), blue-collar (51 percent) with an annual income less than $40,000 (55 percent) and between the ages of 21 and 44 years old (55 percent). They also possess key characteristics: they visit up to three times a day, are loyal to their store, and their primary mission is to refuel their vehicles and themselves, he said.

But why this brand and the Hispanic consumer? BP ampm is primarily found in the Southwest region of the United States and California so the Hispanic consumer "is right in our backyard." The retailer has 950 convenience stores and gas stations selling approximately 2,900 different products a day throughout the West.

To meet this consumer group's needs, the company launched a separate website, ampm-espanol.com, employs a media campaign -- including television, radio, print, outdoor digital and social -- in Spanish, and is involved in sponsorships and promotional activities close to Hispanic consumers' hearts.

"All our communication vehicles are developed to be culturally relevant and not just simply translated from the general market," he noted.

However, BP ampm does take a cue from its general market campaigns with outdoor advertising to ensure visual synergies between the messages. As an added bonus, it cuts down on costs for the final artwork, Hachtel noted.

Mintel's research points to several key items for convenience store operators to carry if they want to attract -- and keep -- the Hispanic consumer. Older consumers favor buying lottery tickets, while younger males between 18 and 34 years old are known to purchase calling cards, Ahuile explained. Milk and bottled juice, common items for families, prove popular with the Spanish-dominate Hispanic consumer, she added.

The top three things Hispanic consumers would like to see in a c-store are fax and photocopying services, entertainment kiosk where they can rent videos, and an Internet kiosk, Ahuile said.

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