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Location Counts in Meeting Consumers' Needs

MINNEAPOLIS — The needs of convenience store shoppers vary based on whether they are shopping in the city or the suburbs, according to General Mills Convenience & Foodservice.

To help c-store retailers maximize their success based on geography, the company conducted a survey to learn more about usage and desired offerings among urban, suburban and rural c-store shoppers.

C-store shoppers are not tied to one specific location, and visit three different types of c-store a month on average, the survey found. Suburban c-stores are the most popular, with nearly three-quarters of surveyed consumers (72 percent) visiting this store type in a month. Additionally, 68 percent visit urban residential (single family homes) c-stores locations; 53 percent visit urban business district c-stores; and 52 percent visit urban residential (apartment) or small town/rural c-stores.

When asked about their purchases and expectations of c-stores, consumers' responses varied by geography:

  • Suburban: An all-day stop for quick, small item picks.
  • Rural: The while-on-the-go relief and refueling stop.
  • Urban Residential (Single Family Homes): A quick stop when out and about for fun and basics.
  • Urban Business: A routine stop for easy meals/snacks during the workday.
  • Urban Residential (Apartments): A while on-the-go pit stop for essentials and entertainment.

"Not all trips to convenience stores are created equally. While there are more similarities than differences among c-store locations, understanding the nuances can drive profitability for the retailer and satisfaction for the shopper," stated Lindsey Shepherd, consumer insights researcher at General Mills Convenience & Foodservice. "C-stores should leverage their locale to customize their assortment."

To make the most of their location, c-store operators should emphasize different things depending on where they operate:

  • Suburban & Urban Residential (Single Family Homes) C-stores: Focus on speedy service in an accessible environment.
  • Rural C-stores: Drive shoppers inside the store with snack and beverage deals.
  • Urban Business C-stores: Increase the variety and customization of foodservice.
  • Urban Residential (Apartments) C-stores: Prioritize healthier food and beverage offerings, as well as services like video rentals.

Nearly 3,200 c-store food and beverage shoppers aged 18-64 participated in General Mills' online survey, fielded in November 2014.

Minneapolis-based General Mills Convenience & Foodservice serves the convenience, foodservice and bakery industries.

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