CBX reported that modern convenience stores face pressure to evolve amid the ramped-up expectations of global consumers, according to an Oct. 8 NACS Show presentation by Joseph Bona, president of branded environments at CBX, and Dan Munford, Managing Director of Insight.
“Strategic insight has never been more important, precisely because the retail world is changing so fast,” Munford told the audience at the National Association of Convenience Stores’ annual convention, which ran Oct. 7-10 at The Las Vegas Convention Center.
“For example, the phenomenon of channel-blurring has led to a proliferation of competitors from outside the traditional c-store sector,” he said. “Whether you’re talking about c-stores, QSR and fast food chains or pharmacies and grocery stores, all of these retail categories are chasing the same consumers. C-stores must raise their game.”
According to a release from the company, in Europe and the United States alike, a number of c-store chains now aim to accomplish this by supplying food offerings, often in sumptuous settings relative to the c-stores of the past
According to a September 2014 report by Nielson, fresh foods will account for up to 50 percent of category sales in Europe’s next-generation c-stores, he noted.
Meanwhile, U.S.-based chains such as Wawa, Sheetz and Rutter’s are developing store designs centered on higher-quality food, Bona said.
“These chains understand that time-pressed consumers crave healthier and better offerings in both the foodservice and grocery areas,” he said. Indeed, in one Technomic survey, a sizeable majority — 64 percent — said eating healthy was important. And earlier this year, two-fifths of consumers told the research firm they would visit convenience stores for prepared foods more often if freshness and quality were improved, Bona noted. “But bear in mind, convenience-sector foodservice is already a $10.9 billion industry, according to Technomic,” he said.
Over the course of the presentation, Bona and Munford cited a raft of research illustrating changing consumer tastes and preferences. They also pointed to smart use of technology by Rutter’s and Tesco Express. The latter chain, Munford noted, has been experimenting with self-checkout stations that are half the size of standard units, with an overall goal of slashing wait times.
“This use of the ‘friendly culture’ of popular partner brands was a savvy move that is proving popular with consumers,” Munford said. Likewise, European convenience retailer SPAR has partnered with independent U.K. retailer Eat17 to create a retail destination that combines convenience, restaurant and grocery.
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