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What Today's Demographics Mean to Tomorrow's Business

Angela Hanson

RESTON, Va. — From increased adoption of electric vehicles to pandemic-prompted shifts in shopper behavior, the convenience store industry is facing quite a few changes, and even more change is on the way. 

Some of the most significant changes to come are related to who the convenience channel's customers are and who they will be, according to Ken Gronbach, demographer and president of KGC Direct.

Gronbach discussed the impact of changing demographics during a keynote presentation, entitled "Demography Is Destiny: What It Means for Your Business," as part of the recent 2021 Convenience Distribution Marketplace Virtual event.

"If you understand demographics, you can predict what's coming our way," Gronbach said. For example, Generation X is smaller compared to its surrounding generations, but has a large Latino cohort. The younger Generation Y is smaller, but "will change everything, including convenience retail," he said.

Learning about demographics can help retailers understand how big the c-store end user market is, and whether it is getting bigger or smaller. It also can educate retailers on the size of their talent pool and where it is located.

People are also the ones moving money around by buying products and services at c-stores. "Demographics precipitates economics," Gronbach pointed out.

Markets in general are expanding, not contracting, which means more opportunity. Everything related to c-stores will be dealing with a bigger audience, he noted.

However, geography makes a difference some states are growing their populations, while others are losing population as residents move away.

Retailers should also be aware of generational differences and what is important to the different age groups.

"People who will shape our culture are already here and diverse," Gronbach said. For Gen Y, in particular, diversity is a way of life. The United States is projected to become majority non-white by 2045.

Gronbach also highlighted the fact that women outnumber men in college and law school, and the glass ceiling is shattering. He urged companies to look at their labor force and management team and consider whether it matches existing demographic diversity.

Above all, he concluded that the key is knowledge; the better c-store retailers know the demographics of their customers, the more successful they can be at offering them what they want to buy and speaking to them through appropriate marketing. 

Presented by the Convenience Distribution Association (CDA), the 2021 Convenience Distribution Marketplace Virtual was held Feb. 15-17. As the only national conference and trade show dedicated to convenience wholesalers, the program provided attendees with a number of insightful and inspiring keynotes and sessions, along with networking and business-building opportunities. 

The CDA is a trade organization working on behalf of convenience products distributors in the U.S. Its distributor members represent more than $102 billion in U.S convenience product sales, serving a wide variety of small retail formats. Associate members include leading convenience product manufacturers, brokers, retailers, suppliers and others allied to the industry. 

About the Author

Angela Hanson

Angela Hanson

Angela Hanson is Senior Editor of Convenience Store News. She joined the brand in 2011. Angela spearheads most of CSNews’ industry awards programs and authors numerous special reports. In 2016, she took over the foodservice beat, a critical category for the c-store industry. 

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