Study: Millennials Are Unique C-store Shoppers

MINNEAPOLIS -- Millennials may be the most sought-after consumer today, and new research indicates convenience stores are delivering.

General Mills Convenience & Foodservice recently conducted a survey to uncover the unique perceptions and desires of Millennial convenience store shoppers. The online survey included 474 c-store food and beverage shoppers, aged 18 to 64, and focused on the differences between Millennials (aged 18 to 34) and shoppers over the age of 35.

Overall, consumers gave convenience stores high marks, with nine out of 10 reporting they are satisfied with the c-store experience today.

When it comes to differing from other consumers, Millennial shoppers are more likely to be frequent c-store shoppers. By the numbers, 53 percent of Millennials said they visit a c-store daily or weekly, compared to 47 percent of shoppers over 35 years old.

In addition, Millennials are more likely to buy food and beverages during those visits. Specifically, 66 percent of the visits include food and beverage purchases vs. 61 percent for shoppers older than 35. As for what's in their baskets, Millennials are more likely to seek out certain items such as non-coffee hot beverages, snack bars and pizza.

Despite their overall satisfaction with c-stores, Millennials also shop at mass merchandisers, coffee shops, fast-casual restaurants, informal sit-down restaurants and food trucks more frequently than older shoppers, the survey found. Millennials cite fast-food restaurants (36 percent) and coffee shops (15 percent) as their top alternatives to convenience stores for food on the go, making these channels the biggest competitors for the Millennial food dollar, General Mills said.

Regardless of demographic, convenience is the No. 1 reason consumers visit convenience stores.

Drilling down into the 18- to 34-year-old segment, the survey found several other key factors are important to Millennials when shopping the channel:

  • Availability of breakfast foods: 31 percent (vs. 23 percent of shoppers aged 35 and older)
  • Better-for-you alternatives: 31 percent (vs. 20 percent of shoppers aged 35 and older)
  • Coupons and deals: 29 percent (vs. 21percent of shoppers aged 35 and older)
  • Expanded grocery section: 28 percent (vs. 19 percent of shoppers aged 35 and older)
  • Quality beer and wine selection: 27 percent (vs. 20 percent of shoppers aged 35 and older)

"One way to win the Millennial dollar is by taking inspiration from competing channels, delivering the variety and quality of competing foodservice venues without sacrificing the convenience that's so critical to this consumer," said Lindsey Shepherd, consumer insights researcher at General Mills Convenience & Foodservice. "Opportunity also exists around breakfast, better-for-you alternatives and an expanded grocery section."

Headquartered in Minneapolis, the General Mills Convenience & Foodservice division serves the convenience, foodservice and bakery industries.

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