Modern Day ‘Bubba’

Understanding the c-store consumer to increase sales

Beef Empanada

Brought to you by Ruiz Foods.

The stereotypical convenience-store consumer, affectionately known as Bubba, is changing.

No longer is he solely young, white, male and blue collar. He is more ethnically diverse and, while always on the hunt for craveable foods, he’s increasingly looking for fresh, high quality foods made with “real” ingredients. 

This changing demographic spells opportunity for retailers, but understanding what motivates the modern Bubba is critical in tailoring offerings to meet those needs and desires.

“The consumers, they’re getting smarter,” says Shannon Harvey, foodservice and dispensed beverage category manager for Ricker’s Convenience Stores. “They know what they want and that’s what they want.”

Ricker’s is now offering made-to-order breakfast, lunch and dinner options, including pizza, breadsticks, deli sandwiches and more to capture Bubba’s expanding palate and preference for foods with few artificial ingredients. 

“People want good food at a good price and they want to be able to customize it,” Harvey says. “We’re trying to change our mindset from a convenience store to think more like a restaurant.”

There’s no question that c-store consumers are buying more food. Twenty-five percent of consumers report purchasing more foodservice items at c-stores in the past month, largely at the expense of fast-food restaurants, according to Technomic’s Convenience Store Consumer Market Brief from the last quarter of 2016. Forty-nine percent of them are buying foodservice snacks, up 11% from the previous year, Technomic found.

Bubba is now demanding that c-stores stock better-for-you and socially responsible foods. Some 84% of consumers look for c-store snacks that are considered “fresh,” 81% seek out snacks labeled “clean” and 70% want snacks that are “real,” according to Technomic.

Bubba hasn’t stopped seeking out craveable options and is not grabbing low-calorie or ultra-healthy options when selecting c-store food.

“I can’t give a salad away,” Harvey says. “Everyone says they want to eat healthier but they pick up that craveable thing at the c-store.”

When trying to entice today’s Bubba, play up freshness cues, quality and real-ingredient claims in store signage, social media and other marketing materials. Accompany that with appealing images to add to item craveability.

Items such as El Monterey® Empanadas appeal to this changing demographic for a variety of reasons. They grab modern-day Bubba with ethnic flavors and real, recognizable ingredients. And, as with all Ruiz Foods products, there’s no denying their craveable flavors. Fully portable—meeting the grab-and-go needs of this target c-store demographic—they can be customized with a range of dipping sauces. Plus, they’re made with real, recognizable ingredients. Ruiz Foods, which also makes Tornados®, is focused on using quality real ingredients while keeping the same craveable flavors that bring Bubba to the c-store.