Click play to view sales progression over time.
Small packs are key
In addition to ensuring customers can buy the brands they prefer, pack size matters. Ninety percent of beer transactions in C-stores are 12-packs or smaller. Small beer multipacks comprise three-quarters of category sales and provide one of the largest C-store basket rings — more than twice the average. Twelve-packs are especially important5. They rank as the No. 1 multipack in dollar sales and play a key role in two of the three occasions that drive shoppers to C-stores: relaxing and connecting.
Beer shoppers make their decision based on occasion. Because of that, every segment — from Mexican imports to premium lights to flavored malt beverages to economy beer — plays a role. Balance is critical, and to focus on just the hot brand or the top-selling item at the expense of balance can be damaging to your business.
Be sure to get the premium light and economy segments right.
Among the best things you can do for your business is to offer core SKUs and ensure you’ve got enough days of supply on hand. What are the core SKUs? In short: premium lights and economy brands, including brands like Miller Lite, Coors Light, Miller High Life and Keystone Light, which account for 72 percent of total case volume sold in C-stores. Together, these segments drive about 80 percent of beer trips.
These are the brands beer shoppers expect to find at C-stores. Shoppers over-index in their likelihood to purchase both premium lights and economy brands in the C-store channel.
That’s why it makes sense for C-stores to lean into premium lights to drive conversion. They are the largest segment and have the most consumer reach in the beer category6. Their shoppers spend the most per trip, and have nine times the rate of sale of craft and FMBs, and nearly three times that of imports7. Yet, since 2013, the number of premium light SKUs has fallen 5 percent despite the total number of beer SKUs increasing by 29 percent. When operators look to why their traffic is down, beer assortment is usually a good place to start. So, it’s no surprise that in 2017, C-stores that carried both 12-packs of cans and bottles for the three major premium light brands (Miller Lite, Coors Light and Bud Light) sold 9.6 percent more beer on average than stores that didn’t carry these core brands8.
Economy brands are just as important. Economy shoppers are very loyal and have the highest exclusivity rates in the category. Nearly seven in 10 shoppers will drink only their brand. They spend more annually in C-stores than any other beer shopper ($249 per year) and take 12 percent more trips5.
Above Premium in C-store
1 Nielsen AOD C-Store POS Volume Sales, 2017
2 5,000 c-store shopper surveys, January 2017; 2016 NACS convenience tracking program survey; NACS 2016 state of the industry.
3 PBM Store intercepts 2010-2015
4 Brewers Association 2017
5 Nielsen C-store, latest 52 weeks ending May 6, 2017; MillerCoors transaction analysis; 1.8 Billion C-store baskets
6 Nielsen Panel Data, Q3 2017
7 Nielsen C-store, L52wks 8/04/18
8 Nielsen Total US Convenience year-to-date Aug. 12,2017
9 Nielsen C-store analytics/space audit, Q4 2015
10 Nielsen Homescan 52we 12/17/30
11 Nielsen Total Convenience, L13 wks, 7/28/18
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