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.


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
Morning meal33%-1%
P.M. snack42%3%
Morning meal22%4%
P.M. snack13%1%
Morning meal19%11%
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

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.

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%

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”
C-store quality68%
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.

Good value for the money47%39%37%34%
Quality of hot food items21%15%20%17%
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%
Chicken strips/wings19%17%

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.

Want breaking news at your fingertips?

Get today’s need-to-know convenience industry intelligence. Sign up to receive texts from CSP on news and insights that matter to your brand.

Related Content


More from our partners