ALEXANDRIA, Va., Oct. 8, 2015 — Convenience stores are poised to capitalize on the growing trend of consumers seeking healthy, more convenient products, according to a new Hudson Institute report.
“Consumers’ desire for convenience is a growing trend and a notable convenience store opportunity,” according to “Health & Wellness Trends and Strategies for the Convenience Store Sector,” a report commissioned by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).
To grow sales, the 152,794 convenience store operators in the United States should look beyond simply meeting the needs of their traditional customers and embrace the growing demand for more better-for-you items that can be conveniently purchased, according to the report, authored by Hank Cardello, senior Fellow and director of the Hudson Institute’s Obesity Solutions Initiative, and Steve French, managing partner and co-owner of the Natural Marketing Institute (NMI).
Convenience retailers should place a focus on two primary consumer segments to grow sales: continuing to serve their traditional core consumer segment of “Eat, Drink & Be Merrys” and the growing segment characterized as “Fence Sitters,” who represent 38% of convenience store shoppers and typically spend more, yet are often unsure where they can find convenient, better-for-you options. Overall, 34% of Fence Sitters say there are “no convenient locations nearby” to purchase healthy foods.
In particular, easy-to-access prepared foods present an opportunity for convenience stores with foodservice operations to capitalize on this customer’s desire to eat healthier more often. Foodservice sales are 19% of the industry’s $213.5 billion in in-store sales.
“Convenience stores have an opportunity to bridge this gap and own convenient foodservice—especially breakfast—when nutrition is considered most important and Fence Sitters are currently eating healthier options during this meal occasion in particular,” according to the report.
There also is considerable opportunity to grow sales through education—both by communicating the availability of better-for-you products and by highlighting taste and quick and easy preparation for on-the-go consumption.
“By focusing on products and messaging that meet the need for healthier products—on-the-go, breakfast and kid-targeted convenience—convenience stores can drive significant, new growth in this emerging category,” the report concluded.
The insights in the report were based on the proprietary Health & Wellness Trends Database managed by the NMI, which has analyzed and compiled more than 80,000 consumer surveys since 2001.
The 10-page report is available for download.