How C-stores Can Meet the Needs of Multicultural Shoppers
NATIONAL REPORT — Catering to the changing needs of convenience store customers doesn't just mean examining their current wants and needs; it requires looking into the future and anticipating how those wants and needs will change. This is particularly relevant for millennials, who are not only poised to overtake baby boomers as the largest generation, but also are the most diverse generation.
That diversity will continue with the generations that follow — projections show that by the year 2044, the United States will be dominantly multicultural.
While the rate of change will vary by region, convenience store operators in particular are likely to observe the movement firsthand, and it will bring both challenges and opportunities.
"Multicultural shoppers make up 37 percent of all [c-store] visitors, but 43 percent of core (weekly or more often) shoppers — and their share of core shoppers continues to grow, up two points from 2014," Coca-Cola North America's Doug Middlebrooks, group director, shopper marketing, told Convenience Store News. "Tailoring your offering and message to your shopper is not a new idea, but the notion of having a more fragmented and diverse shopper base is a new reality."
Best practices for meeting the needs of multicultural shoppers include:
- With a more diverse generation comes more diverse tastes. A strong interest in ethnic food is currently among the top menu trends, with food from Asia, Latin America and the Middle East showing particularly notable menu growth.
- In the beverage aisle and at the fountain area, the popularity of tropical flavors and drinks with unique flavor offerings is on the rise. Think aguas frescas.
- Candy and snacks that tend to do well with multicultural shoppers include non-chocolate and gummy items, as well as hot and spicy and sweet and spicy flavor profiles.
- On average, multicultural shoppers prioritize product selection more highly than other groups, and Hispanic shoppers may make it the deciding factor in which store they choose.
- Product reviews, deals/coupons and online shopping convenience are the three main trends driving Hispanic purchasing in the U.S. today.
- Higher involvement in digital is common among multicultural shoppers. Research shows that multicultural shoppers who visit c-stores at least weekly are 75 percent more likely to utilize social media related to their shopping. This includes reporting on their experiences, interacting with brands and more.
Today, Hispanic-American and African-American shoppers are primary convenience store shoppers, with 65 percent and 56 percent, respectively, visiting c-stores at least once a week. These core shoppers tend to be more loyal to particular stores, especially if they can get genuine value via rewards programs. However, that loyalty isn't limitless, cautioned Middlebrooks.
"Our perspective is that the answer lies in how quickly retailers want to maximize their business results. This notion goes back to catering to local shoppers," he said. "Multicultural shoppers are important to every store in every market, and they are the primary shopper in many areas already."
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