CSP Magazine

Foodservice: Traffic & Menu Trends 2014

Foodservice Traffic Growth

Convenience stores have been the best performing segment over the past three years, increasing traffic each year, according to The NPD Group.

Segment201120122013
C-stores3%2%1%
QSRs1%1%0%
Food/drug0%-1%0%

Source: The NPD Group/CREST


Distribution of Day-Part Traffic: C-Stores vs. QSRs vs. Retail

Year ending December 2013

QSR and food/drug segments won this past year with the morning meal, while c-stores performed well at lunch, according to NPD. Snacking was strong for both QSR and c-stores.

Day-partShare of trafficPCYA
C-stores  
Morning meal33%-1%
Lunch19%5%
Supper6%-2%
P.M. snack42%3%
QSRs  
Morning meal22%4%
Lunch36%-1%
Supper29%-1%
P.M. snack13%1%
Retail  
Morning meal19%11%
Lunch29%-3%
Supper22%-3%
P.M. snack30%-1%

Source: The NPD Group/CREST


Pizza and Chicken Menu Importance

Year ending December 2013

When comparing c-stores to QSR and food/drug segments, retail establishments continue to lag behind QSRs with pizza. However, chicken at food/drug stores is almost on par with QSR.

Food typePercent of meals/snacks that include the item
C-stores 
Pizza3.3%
Chicken5.7%
Food/Drug 
Pizza3.6%
Chicken18.0%
QSR 
Pizza10.4%
Chicken20.6%

Source: The NPD Group/CREST


Cross-Category Opportunity

According to research by Management Science Associates that examined retail point-of-sale data at three midsize c-store chains, stores with a foodservice program sell 2% more packaged beverages and salty snacks than those without, and see about a 13% increase in total store sales.

Overall, 82% of foodservice baskets included items from other categories. (This compares to baskets with tobacco, only half of which include items from other categories.)

The top five items included in a foodservice basket, according to the MSA retail POS analysis: perishable grocery, potato chips, ready-to-eat meals, tortilla ships and flavored milk.

Consumers and Foodservice

The Culinary Visions consumer research panel for Chicago-based Olson Communications explores culinary topics and helps foodservice businesses test products and concepts. In the latest iteration of its

C-Store Consumer survey, Olson asked 1,010 participants about their motivations for purchasing food from a c-store. In the 2013 survey, 55% of participants were female and 45% were male. Age was fairly evenly distributed, with baby boomers—those 48 to 66—contributing slightly more respondents than other age groups.

Thirty-four percent of consumers in Olson’s 2013 survey stated they eat hot food from a c-store about once per week. Survey participants ages 49 to 67 had the highest propensity to eat from a c-store at least once a week, at 42%.

What follows are highlights of the c-store Culinary Visions Panel 2013. For more information about the panel, contact Olson Communications at (312) 280-4757 or info@culinaryvisions.org.


C-Store Food Purchase Motivators

The No. 1 reason consumers choose to purchase hot food from a c-store is convenience, with location a distant second, according to the Olson Communications research.

ReasonPercentage
Convenience/speed74%
Location/proximity to home or work49%
Good value for the money41%
Taste/flavor of hot food items34%
Quality of hot food items19%
Variety of flavors available15%
Other6%

Source: Olson Communications


Most Important Hot-Food Attributes

Price, c-store quality and time-saving capability topped the list of “very important” attributes consumers seek in a hot-food purchase.

AttributePercentage overall who
consider it “very important”
Price69%
C-store quality68%
Time-saving67%
Flavorful61%
Past experience with c-store52%
Homemade taste38%
Healthy menu options21%
Brand name19%
Ethnic flavor13%

Source: Olson Communications


Reasons for Purchasing Hot Food at C-Store by Age

Regardless of the age group, convenience and speed were the top reasons why consumers said they purchased hot food from a c-store.

Reason19-3637-4849-6768+
Good value for the money47%39%37%34%
Taste/flavor36%38%33%34%
Quality of hot food items21%15%20%17%
Convenience/speed69%79%72%79%
Location/proximity to home or work43%53%51%51%
Variety of flavors available15%18%12%19%

Source: Olson Communications


Typical C-Store Purchases by Gender

Roller-grill items are favored by more men than women, according to Olson Communications research. The other hot-food type women tended to clearly favor is soup, with 13% of females vs. 7% of males citing it as a common c-store purchase.

Food itemMaleFemale
Roller-grill items60%47%
Breakfast sandwich45%40%
Deli sandwich33%30%
Pizza31%27%
Burger22%15%
Chicken strips/wings19%17%
Nachos19%25%
Taquito18%20%
Soup7%13%

Source: Olson Communications


Customer in Focus

When asked to rank the effectiveness of marketing strategies in encouraging a purchase of a prepared or made-to-order food or drink item from a c-store, consumers in a Mintel survey voted “free samples of menu items” as the top choice, or 47% of the 1,395 survey participants. Next up? Frequent-visitor reward cards at 42% followed by a coupon printed on a gas receipt (36%)

and coupons by mail (34%). “This shows that despite the rise in tech-savvy marketing techniques, people want an offer they can touch/hold, especially when using offers while on the go and in the car,” Mintel concludes.

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