BOSTON — The younger consumers are, the more likely they'll choose a convenience store to satisfy their packaged beverage needs, according to a new survey by GasBuddy.
Packaged beverages are the third-largest in-store category at convenience stores, with 15.3% share of sales in 2018, according to NACS State of the Industry data.
The 2019 C-Store Beverage Study from GasBuddy shows 51% of those surveyed said they purchase a beverage at a gas station c-store at least once a week, 20% of which are doing so daily.
The study confirmed that packaged beverages are often impulse buys. In fact, 65% of those surveyed said their beverage purchases are typically unplanned before getting to the store.
And younger consumers, ages 18-29, prefer c-stores over drugstores or grocery stores, a preference that wanes as consumers get older.
“Today's consumers—especially millennials—are buying more food on the go, including snacks, drinks and prepared meals," said Frank Beard, convenience retail analyst for Boston-based GasBuddy. "Efficiency is paramount in today's society, and convenience stores are providing the desired ease and choice of options for an evolving customer. C-stores are also responding to a growing desire for healthier options."
Meanwhile, those same younger consumers are the least brand-loyal and most easily influenced by coupons and discounts, according to the beverage study.
Brand loyalty is at an all-time low, with 67% of consumers saying they try new items based on discounts or interesting packaging. The survey also revealed how greatly product preferences vary between generations. Water is the No. 1 beverage product purchased at a gas station c-store by 18- to 29-year-olds, while carbonated soft drinks topped the list for the 30-44 and 45-60 age groups.
Here's a look at highlights from the study ...
An astounding 56% of the 18- to 29-year-old age group said they are more inclined to get their beverages at a convenience store vs. a drug or grocery store. That preference drops to 53% for the 30-44 age group. Consumers 45-60 years old, meanwhile, prefer drugstores or grocery stores over c-stores.
While the top five types of packaged beverages purchased at c-stores are, in order, carbonated soft drinks, water, coffee, energy drinks and sports drinks, 44% of respondents strongly agreed with the statement that they have moved more toward healthier options such as sparkling water and drinks with vitamins and electrolytes compared to five years ago.
GasBuddy's 2019 C-Store Beverage Study was conducted July 10, 2019. The results are based on 1,046 responses.
GasBuddy's mission is to help consumers avoid paying full price for fuel. As a source for crowdsourced, real-time fuel prices at more than 150,000 gas station convenience stores in the United States, Canada and Australia, millions of drivers use the GasBuddy app and website every day to find gas stations based on fuel prices, location and ratings/reviews.