How to Turn Impulsive, Emotional Consumer Needs Into Sales


Understanding what motivates consumers to make a purchase will not only help drive sales, but also influence the way convenience stores position products. Two highly motivating consumer needs that retailers can tap into are habit and indulgence, according to the 2015 Tyson Convenience and Anheuser-Busch PM Snack Study. To illustrate these needs, let’s look at two different consumers during rush-hour after a long day at work.

One of these commuters may be frustrated with the grind of commuting every day. This type of consumer wants a distraction to help pass the time and, out of boredom, may grab a snack for the commute from a convenience store, creating a habit.

Another commuter may stop at a convenience store to fill his/her gas tank and, when entering the store to pay, thinks about a successful moment from the day. To celebrate this victory, the consumer decides to purchase a snack as a reward of indulgence to experience happiness and satisfaction.

These are natural impulses and emotions that continuously drive traffic to convenience stores. By understanding that emotions may trigger a consumer’s intent to purchase, convenience stores can better cater to these impulses by investing in their operations and even their consumers.

Here are four tips retailers can adopt to capitalize on impulse emotions and increase sales:

1. Drive Ready-to-Go Purchases With Enticing Smaller Portions

Consumers want all that and a bag of chips. Literally, they want more than just a bag of chips. When the consumer has an impulse, make it easy for them to act on it by providing a prepared food item that is hot, fresh and ready to go.

One easy way to do this is to position your current prepared food items as a snack by offering smaller portion sizes. So instead of having six boneless wings in a pack, try offering four — this makes products more snack-oriented. Keep in mind, food quality and freshness are the most important attributes consumers consider, so promoting these will help attract more attention and drive purchases.

2. Attract Indulgence Seekers With Exciting Product Offerings During All Dayparts

One simple way to entice consumers during different dayparts is to offer bundle purchases, which can help form a habit or routine for customers.

For example in the morning, if a customer purchases a hot breakfast sandwich, also offer them a coffee for a packaged price and maybe a couple doughnut holes to sweeten the deal. During the lunch hour, an add-on may be a beverage and a fresh-baked cookie.

These are products convenience stores already offer, but are now packaged together creating a new offering that may entice consumers to form a purchasing habit.

3. Develop Ritual Purchases With Unique & Consistent Product Deals

Product variety doesn’t have to equate to an increase in retailer costs or more products. Sometimes just adding additional condiments or sauces for increased options to prepared foods can create a more enjoyable consumer experience.

Additionally, operators can create variety in their deals from week to week or month to month, keeping things exciting for the consumer. One week, stores can offer a hot dog happy hour. Then the next, offer a morning coffee deal.

Not only will consumers appreciate the extra effort and excitement, but this creates a reason to stop at the local convenience store to check out the latest special or take advantage of a seasonal promotion.

4. Communicate Experience & Maintain Consumer Expectations to Ensure Repeat Visits

Once the convenience store retailer invests in meeting the impulsive, emotional needs of its consumers, communicating these new deals and promotions, products and enhanced experiences becomes even more important. Invest in signage, promotional collateral or employee training to ensure they communicate all the new offerings to consumers.

It’s vital that retailers remain vigilant in maintaining the enhancements to their operations so they remain top-of-mind for consumers. Set the expectation that you are all-in before consumers walk through the door and reinforce as they leave to encourage repeat visits and new sales.

Consumers make impulsive purchases based on their emotional needs, and convenience stores can benefit by providing offerings and customer experiences to satisfy those needs. In order to capitalize on these consumer needs, convenience store retailers must offer new products and product combinations in innovative and fun ways in order to communicate the product benefits to consumers.

When that consumer has the urge to buy either out of habit or indulgence, it is up to the convenience store retailer to make it easy for customers to act on those impulses.

Editor’s note: The opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the views of Convenience Store News.  

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