Regardless of market type, c-store customers are enthusiastic about foodservice. More than a third (37%) said they are visiting c-stores more often now than they were two years ago because of a wider variety of foodservice items available, according to Technomic. This outpaced other visit motivators such as an affordable offer (34%), new store openings (24%) and quick meal solutions (24%). The increased visitation is the result of c-stores offering both indulgent, craveable items and healthy options, Crecca says.
“About half of consumers confirm that c-stores are as capable of producing fresh, quality foodservice items as restaurants,” she says. “This indicates that consumer confidence in c-store foodservice is growing, and also points to an expectation that convenience stores will indeed offer restaurant-quality food.”
Suburban consumers are more likely to say they are visiting c-stores more often because of enhanced foodservice (43%), compared to 36% of urban consumers and 33% of rural consumers, according to Technomic. Also, urban consumers are slightly more likely to be driven by good value (37%), while rural consumers are more driven by taste (50%) when purchasing foodservice food items.
More options are available for foodservice, which is why I’m visiting c-stores more often now than two years ago:
Suburban consumers are more influenced by a variety of foodservice options at c-stores than urban and rural customers.
For Dash In convenience stores, a division of the Wills Group, La Plata, Md., foodservice is booming at its newly remodeled sites. The chain, which has a suburban presence in Maryland, Delaware and Virginia, credits its recent foodservice success to items being made in-house vs. being prepackaged, plus having made-to-order options and increased menu variety, says Mark Samuels, vice president of retail for the company.
“When we make [food] in-house, it’s fresher, it’s got better visual appeal and we sell eight to 10 times more of it than we did in the older stores,” he says.
Dash In’s prepared foods menu includes a Chicken Bacon Ranch Quesadilla, which features a large flour tortilla stuffed with all white meat chicken, diced bacon, tomato, ranch dressing and shredded cheddar cheese.
The company’s made-to-order program is in 17 stores today—17 more than five years ago, Samuels says. These stores comprise more than 600 made-to-order purchases a day, he says.
“Those customers probably weren’t buying the grab-and-go or the premade food in the past,” he says. “So we’re reaching a new segment.”