OKLAHOMA CITY — When it comes to consumer preference, QuikTrip Corp. is at the top of the list.
According to the second annual dunnhumby Retailer Preference Index for the Convenience Channel (RPI) which surveyed nearly 7,000 U.S. households to determine which of the top 27 convenience store retailers have the strongest combination of financial performance and consumer emotional connection, QuikTrip topped the ranking, followed by Wawa Inc., Sheetz Inc., Kwik Trip/Kwik Star, RaceTrac Petroleum, Casey's General Stores and Maverik.
"There is a raging battle for the stomach that is being fought not only by grocery retailers, fast food restaurants, and food delivery services, but also now by convenience stores. The convenience retailers winning today and substantially growing are catering to the time-starved consumer by offering not only groceries, but also quality fresh and ready-to eat food," said Jose Gomes, president of North America for dunnhumby.
"Instead of focusing on just winning loyalty or new customer acquisition, retailers need to focus on winning the customer and each customer mission together. This RPI can serve as a blueprint for retailers on how to deliver a compelling value proposition and retail experience that aligns with their customers' needs."
The RPI study explored the evolving food retail landscape to help retailers navigate an increasingly challenging market. The overall RPI ranking evaluated retailer performance on five pillars: convenient quality, price, fresh and healthy, discounts and rewards, and digital.
Key findings from the study include:
Size matters. Smaller regional retailers outperform most of the national retailers by better adapting to the evolving needs of their customers.
Food is a differentiator. Focusing on fresh, healthy and ready to eat items are the biggest differentiators for top performing retailers.
Cross-channel shopping. Cross-shopping is on the rise between the convenience, grocery, dollar, drug, and quick-serve restaurant channels. Nearly seven out of 10 convenience customers regularly shop each of the other channels each month. Category differences appear to somewhat buffer convenience from drug and the growing dollar channels.
Back to basics. To be successful, retailers need to start by getting the retail basics right, like quality and store experience, then develop ready-to-eat and fresh areas, and utilizing digital and rewards to share and amplify store improvements.
Number and location are relevant. Share of visit and consumer awareness data shows minimal difference between the top and bottom retailers. But, the strength of the customer emotional connection, ability to convert awareness into purchase, along with key financial measures suggest that even though store counts capture visits today, high store numbers are not enough for superior growth.
"The retailers that deliver a value proposition that aligns with their customer needs will be better positioned to grow a loyal customer base that is connected to more than just convenient locations," said Gomes.
The latest dunnhumby RPI is available for download here.