Beverages

How Convenience Stores Can Win in Packaged Beverages

C-stores need to consider older and younger generations, Nik Modi says at Convenience Retailing University
Convenience Retailing University 2024
Photograph by CSP Staff

Convenience stores focus heavily on younger generations, like Gen Z or millennials, when marketing packaged beverages—but older generations are worth paying attention to. Nik Modi, managing director at RBC Capital Markets, said 64% of beverage buyers are 45 years old or older. 

“And we don’t talk to them at all… we’re so obsessed with getting these younger consumers that we’ve completely neglected our core consumer base,” Modi said.

By 2030, the baby boomers will still be a significant amount of the population and will lead almost every other age group in the amount they spend, he said.

“We’re living longer, we’re living with disability longer, we’re living more productive lives, and beverages can play a key role in all of that,” Modi said.

Older consumers, or those 55 years old and older, Modi said, look to the convenience channel for categories such as beverages, snacks and deli and prepared foods. And within beverages, according to Numerator Insights and RBC Capital Markets data, they buy:

  • Still water 28.4%
  • Cola 28.3%
  • Citrus and berry soda 22.9%
  • Premium beer 21.6%
  • Ready-to-drink tea 21.5%

Modi pointed to beverages that target gut health—like functional sodas poppi and Olipop—as well as beverages with adaptogens as areas of opportunity in packaged beverages.

But recruiting young consumers is still important, too, Modi said. “However, it’s a whole new world,” he said.

The racial makeup of Baby Boomers in the United States is 78% white, followed by 8% Hispanic and 8% Black, he said. While the makeup of Gen Alpha, or those born between approximately 2010 and 2025, is 32% white, 39% Hispanic and 13% Black.

“This is not a homogeneous situation,” Modi said. “It is very different groups that we have to cater to…. So we need to focus on the older consumer and the younger consumer at the same time.”

One way to do this is to consider promotions outside of holidays like Memorial Day, Independence Day and Christmas, he said.

“When was the last time you did a Diwali display? Or a Chinese New Year display? Or even a Cinco de Mayo display?”

“There’s just so much opportunity,” Modi said.

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