Breaking Down Segmentation

NACS Show: Nielsen researchers share ways of targeting demographic groups important to c-stores

Jennifer Bulat, Group Director of Editorial Production, CSP

 Laurie Rains, Paul Shumway

 Laurie Rains, Paul Shumway

ATLANTA -- It's a nifty way to use "big data": breaking down shoppers into segments. And two Nielsen researchers shared with attendees of the 2013 NACS Show breakout education session titled "Understanding Shopper Behavior" some ways to target demographics that are key to convenience stores.

But before Laurie Rains, vice president of retail consulting and analytics, and Paul Shumway, director of C&S analytics, went into the examples, they shared some data on how shopper behavior is evolving.

A recent Nielsen survey on how the economy is affecting consumer shopping showed that today's shoppers are most concerned about weekly expenses; 64% pointed to rising food prices and 58% cited rising gasoline prices as factors that are affecting their shopping habits. Many of those concerned about food prices are seeking out deals, and more than three-quarters of those fretting about gasoline are reducing trips and conserving fuel, Rains said.

The survey also showed that more than 50% of c-store shoppers make less than $40,000 per year. That figure, however, includes young shoppers. One-third of them are younger than 35, and three-quarters of them shop c-stores more than once a week. Of the six key reasons people choose a c-store--convenient location, price/value, community involvement, well lit/clean, fresh food, organic/green habits--fresh food and green habits resonate most with younger shoppers.

Speaking of those shoppers, Shumway shared the example of a small chain that was near some community colleges, which meant millennials frequented the stores. The owner discussed with his customers and employees some ways to offer the students fresh food options, which led to him making a revenue-sharing deal with a local food truck operator. The truck parked on the lot of one of his sites, with the understanding that the truck operator would send his customers inside the store for beverages and other add-ons. The truck operator also tweeted his location, pointing out that he was on the lot of the c-store. At another store, the c-store owner hired a quality local deli to offer reasonably priced sandwiches. The partnerships were win-wins all around for all parties, Shumway said.

Rains gave another example, one that included breaking down a demographic further to find two different shopper segments.

While two groups of men--both middle-aged and cash strapped--on the surface could be considered two parts of the same whole, a look further into their attitudes about shopping a c-store brought to light some pertinent data: One of the segments is loyal to that c-store brand and occasionally splurges on "aspirational products"; however, the other segment doesn't care about brands and is more focused on a quick in-and-out experience. It's critical to realize, Rains said, that the first segment is the most important type of customer for that store. The second segment is one who's also important, but instead of trying merely to keep his business, the store should focus on increasing his market basket. It's also wise to consider that the second segment is one who's near highway c-stores, so building similar stores are another way to increase that segment's business.

By Jennifer Bulat, Group Director of Editorial Production, CSP
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