Mobile Anarchy

How smartphones may blow up the way customers shop, pay and fall in love with your c-store brand

Angel Abcede, Senior Editor/Tobacco, CSP

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Rethink Mobile

As those with discounting and loyalty programs can attest, mobile has a reach far beyond payment. Chris Quam, consumer insights manager for General Mills Convenience and Foodservice, Minneapolis, says people with mobile phones inside the c-store are actively making decisions, posting their opinions on social networking sites and leaving a trail of behavioral data that can be extremely useful to retailers.

General Mills has spent considerable time tracking keywords, developing demographic buckets and assessing behavior based on what people post on popular social-media sites, Quam says.

“You’ve got a lot of ‘I want or I need right now’ craving posts, which makes sense for c-stores,” he says. “They’re very often in the moment. … You’ll see tweets around a specific product or snack. ‘I need a Slushie right now.’ Or ‘I’m on a Slushie run.’ Then they’ll post when the mission’s accomplished.”

Special deals spike conversations, he says, especially when there’s a “hot” giveaway. Another trendy topic is gas. People love falling prices and hate when they have to gas up.

The lessons go back to the basics, Quam believes. “The same things that drive word of mouth offline drive them online,” he says. “Great service, surprisingly awesome taste, unbeatable deals, spontaneous surprises and the ongoing level of quality in the stores. … That fosters conversations.”

Calling social media “the new 800 number,” Quam says retailers need to view mobile as a direct line to what customers are thinking. “It’s a consumer insights gold mine of information, not just on how you’re doing but how your competitors are doing,” he says. “Listening to the consumer will give you ideas on what to change and what to keep doing.”


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