Forty-three percent of consumers age 18 to 29 (Millennials and Gen Z) say they’ve purchased more food from a convenience store now than they did three years ago. In the US, c-stores experienced record in-store sales in 2018, an increase of 2.2 percent from the previous year of inside sales, with younger Americans driving the trend for convenience store food.
When combined, Millennials and Gen Z outnumber every other age bracket and are the driving force behind food sales at convenience stores.
It is clear that younger shoppers have a passion for convenience stores, so much so that it is eating away at the traditional fast food restaurant market share. There is an untapped potential for revenue growth if c-store owners can understand what motivates young shoppers to choose their food over quick-service restaurants.
Here’s a few motivating factors:
According to the International Food Information Council’s 2017 Food and Health Survey, 55 percent of Millennials say convenience matters most when buying food, as compared to Baby Boomers who rank taste higher.
According to an NACS study, a significant portion of 18 to 29-year-olds purchased more meals from convenience stores than they did three years ago. Food service now makes up nearly 23 percent of sales at convenience stores nationwide, growing 3 percent in the past five years, driven largely by younger customers who prefer c-store food over fast food chains.
Why is this? The answer is simple: Convenience. They like to get food and gas in one stop. Younger generations are just now breaking into the workforce, while some are still in college. This means they are both very busy and tasked with stretching their dollars.
Not to mention, they are the snacking generations, which is why they are heading into convenience stores in the mid-afternoon, mostly between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., stopping on the way home from work.
Touch-screen menus make ordering convenience store food quick and easy, and younger Americans appreciate the convenience of ordering meals using self-serve kiosks and online apps.
Customers can order and pay for food service items from an in-store touchscreen kiosk, smartphone or other device. Orders are submitted and processed in real-time for instant connectivity between customers, food service staff, and operations. The added speed allows c-store owners to improve quality, track sales more accurately, manage costs and optimize margins. As an added convenience, self-service kiosks encourage repeat visits.
Self-service ordering also feeds another Millennial/Gen Z preference: customization. They want to create their own signature meals, and self-service ordering makes convenience store food that much more attractive to them.
Millennials and Gen Z also like healthy food choices. Self-service kiosks can include nutritional information to help them make smart choices about meals and ingredients and with the ability to customize their orders too, the possibilities are endless.
If you want more customers who love the convenience of your store, target the preferences of Millennials and Gen Z, who are driving the most traffic to convenience stores.
Meeting the needs of younger Americans is much easier with the right tools that support and convenience Millennials and Gen Z crave. To attract the largest c-store customer segment, contact Petrosoft to learn how you can add or enhance your food service at your convenience store and fuel stations.