A Surprising Shift in Behavior Among C-store Regulars

CHICAGO — The traditional convenience store customer is looking for more better-for-you food offerings when they walk through the door, according to new research from Q1 Productions Consulting.

In a departure from previous findings, Q1's latest comprehensive study shows that convenience store "regulars," who include younger males and Hispanic males, are increasingly selecting c-stores based on better-for-you options.

The study provides insight into the convenience store prepared foods segment. It found that 68 percent of males aged 18 to 24 and 58 percent of Hispanic males — the most frequent users of convenience stores — believe finding better-for-you products is very important. 

In addition, the study indicates these groups associate "better-for-you" options with "fresh" and "all natural," which dominated other choices such as low-fat, low-sodium, organic and calorie-free.

"I was surprised to see the shift in behavior for the primary shoppers of prepared foods in convenience stores," said Tim Powell, vice president of Q1 Consulting. "It's encouraging for the venue that it's shedding its gas-station food reputation and becoming a prepared food destination for the next generation."

The findings are among those included in Q1's study "Capturing Opportunities in the Convenience Store Prepared Foods Channel," which will be released in June. The study examines trends in the channel, provides insights on consumers and retailers, profiles the top proprietary prepared food concepts, and explores the impact of other channels such as drugstores, restaurant pop-ups, commissaries/central kitchens and emerging foodservice channels.

The Q1 Productions Consulting unit offers custom business solutions to executives working in the life science and food and beverages industries. Its life sciences and food and beverage professional services practice is framed around three focus areas: research, insights and consulting. 

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