Financial analysts are offering a forecast that could be described as a wintry mix of snow, sleet and rain, with a dose of sun and blue skies—in other words, a goopy mess in which some retailers will enjoy record years and others will disappear.
New Technomic data compares where consumers are eating and what is driving their choices.
As c-stores look to exploit the high-margin opportunities of foodservice, Sara Monnette, senior director of consumer insights for Technomic Inc., Chicago, offered several trends and emerging preferences that will influence c-store foodservice programs:
With the recession ebbing, employment stabilizing and fuel prices dropping, retailers can expect higher traffic and more interest in on-the-go meals.
People want to customize their own meal solutions.
Technology is important and expected, applying to ordering, payment, rewards and social media.
People are moving away from three meals a day to a continuous “grazing.”
Foodservice is appearing across multiple channels. Monnette suggested focusing on differentiation.
In terms of defining the c-store shopper, Technomic research showed that high-frequency customers tend to be male, younger and employed. Moderate-to-light customers tend to be female, baby boomers and upper-income.
Light visitors tend to be female and unemployed. Traffic drivers are gas (70%) but also beverages (66%), suggesting that foodservice can be an opportunity if paired with a beverage offer.
Beyond the food—or maybe aligned with trust in the food—c-stores must be clean. “For someone to want to order a salad, you need to have a clean floor,” Monnette said.