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Mars Vs. Venus Shopping Behavior


women are interested in seeing more coupon offers and the opportunity to benefit from frequent buyer/loyalty programs

Fig. 1

Frequency of C-store Shopping

Fig. 2

Reasons for Shopping at C-stores

As expected, men shop convenience stores more often than women, according to the results of Convenience Store News' 2012 Realities of the Aisle consumer study. However, this year's research clearly suggests that coupon offers and loyalty programs would lure women shoppers to spend more at convenience stores.

Conducted early this year, the exclusive CSNews study polled 1,025 consumers across the United States who shopped at a convenience store in the past month. Twelve percent of male consumers polled said they shop at a c-store "almost every day" and 23 percent said they shop at a c-store "two or three times a week." In comparison, only 7 percent of women said they shop at a c-store almost daily and 11 percent pegged their c-store shopping frequency at two or three times a week.

The most popular reasons, among both men and women, for shopping at a c-store were to buy gasoline (72 percent), buy beverages (49 percent) and buy snacks (30 percent). Men mentioned buying lottery tickets more often than women (29 percent vs. 23 percent), while more women say they go to the c-store to use the restroom (16 percent vs. 10 percent of men).

Just less than half of all respondents (46 percent) said they shop at c-stores while running other better multi-taskers than men, as 50 percent of women said they shop at a c-store while running other errands compared to 42 percent of men. Men tend to shop at c-stores when traveling to/from work or school (50 percent) or while traveling on business (16 percent).

Economic conditions have affected women's spending at c-stores more than men. Thirty-four percent of women said they are spending less money at a c-store as a result of the economy vs. only 26 percent of men who said they are cutting back on their c-store spending.

The belt-tightening is reflected in the difference between the mean average spent by women at c-stores compared to men. Women spent less than men by a significant margin. Men spent a mean average of $14.49 on in-store products during the last visit to a c-store, compared to women's $10.98 average spend.

The top products purchased by both men and women at c-stores are gasoline (71 percent), candy/ gum (31 percent) and soda (29 percent). Men tended to buy more prepared/fast food than women (32 percent vs. 26 percent), lottery tickets (30 percent to 24 percent), beer (20 percent to 11 percent), sports drinks (13 percent to 8 percent), and ice cream (10 percent to 6 percent).

Women out-purchased men in only a few categories — and by the slightest of margins — including hot dispensed beverages (26 percent to 25 percent) and bottled water (20 percent to 19 percent).

Overall, the use of cash for payment was down in the c-store industry among both men and women compared with last year's study. Both debit and credit card use were up. Among men, 26 percent paid with a credit card on their last visit to a c-store. Women preferred debit, with 27 percent of female respondents using a debit card to pay.

Fig. 3

Occasions when Customer Shops at C-stores

Fig. 4

How has the amount of money you spend at c-stores changed in the past year as a result of economic conditions?

Interestingly, there were no significant differences between men and women on the question of why they didn't buy any in-store merchandise on their last visit to a c-store for gasoline. Both genders, in roughly equal proportions, listed their reasons as "don't need anything other than gas," "too expensive" and "I use pay-at-the-pump so I don't go in the store."

When it comes to the big question of how to attract more women to convenience stores, the ladies were clearly interested in seeing more coupon offers and the opportunity to benefit from frequent buyer/ loyalty programs. Forty-three percent of women said the availability of coupons would influence them to purchase in-store products on their next trip to purchase gas at a c-store. Thirty-five percent of men said likewise. Additionally, frequent buyer/loyalty programs appealed to 29 percent of women vs. 23 percent of men.

Overall, 16 percent of respondents said they were already enrolled in a c-store retailer's frequent shopper program. About 8 percent said they knew about, but were not enrolled in their local c-store's loyalty program. However, 38 percent of respondents said they were not enrolled, but would enroll if their store had a loyalty program. That figure climbs to 42 percent among female respondents.

A full version of the Convenience Store News 2012 Realities of the Aisle study is available for purchase online at under the Research tab.

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