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The Top C-Store Chains by Brand Equity

CHICAGO --Wawa has the highest equity among convenience-store brands. And in terms of store products, liquid tea is a hot commodity. These insights from a recent Nielsen study demonstrate how consumers are responding to changing perceptions and attitudes, according to the report.

Since consumers value convenience now more than ever, retailers are using various methods to differentiate themselves and drive growth, said Nikhil Sharma, vice president of consumer and shopper analytics at Nielsen.

The New York-based performance management company released its 2017 Store Choice Driver Report for the Convenience Channel during last month’s NACS show in Chicago. The report analyzes reasons for store visitation, how consumer attitudes impact their purchases and how retailers are responding to these changing perceptions. It also gives c-store rankings based on multiple attributes to help retailers grasp their position in today’s marketplace.

When observing the top c-store brands by equity—the commercial value resulting from consumer brand recognition—Wawa sits atop the throne, followed by Cumberland Farms, Sheetz and Kwik Trip. Nielsen also ranked the fastest-growing c-store items by category, analyzing year-over-year growth from April 2016 to 2017. The result: Liquid ready-to-drink tea grew 27% and took top honors, followed by tobacco alternatives (+25%), premixed alcohol cocktails (+19%), cookies (+10%) and liquor (+9%).

Providing fresh food is among the ways retailers can stand out, as 33% of consumers expect to purchase it at their local c-stores in the future, per the report. Nielsen notes that retailers can differentiate from competitors by offering ready-to-eat/healthy foods, since quality is crucial for purchasing fresh food in c-stores. Since this is already an ongoing trend, the types of fresh foods being served may play a strong role in visitation. Circle K’s enhanced made-to-go menu, for instance, features freshly prepared burritos and pizza.

It’s not just foods that can differentiate and increase consumer satisfaction, however, the report suggests. Overall, retailers can strengthen the customer experience by placing more attention on cleanliness, efficiency, product availability and quality customer service.

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