Foodservice

3 Ways to Bring in More Female Customers

The demographic you should be catering to

At convenience stores, everything has always been about the prototypical customer “Bubba.” But times are changing, and retailers are looking outside the 40- to 50-something male demographic to recruit younger shoppers as well as more women.

Ruiz Foods empanada

Today, there are more women than ever in the workforce, and many also have children. In fact, women in the workforce currently outpace men, at 57%, and the percentage of working mothers with children has increased from 47.5% in the 1970s to 70.3% in 2013, according to the U.S. Dept. of Labor.

It should come as no surprise, then, that many women have a greater need for quick and convenient meals, whether that’s breakfast en route to work, a quick lunch or an easy, take-home dinner for themselves and/or their families.

Prepared foods continue to present a major opportunity for c-store retailers in this regard. The top three reasons consumers choose prepared foods instead of cooking at home, after all, are that they are too tired to cook (37%); they’re craving a specific prepared-food item (36%) or simply don’t have time to cook (35%), according to Technomic’s 2017 Retailer Meal Solutions report. Prepared foods can also help to attract younger consumers; 89% of millennials purchase hot, on-the-go meals, the same report found.

Here are some ways to target the growing group of women heading to c-stores for foodservice.

Broaden breakfast offerings

Everyone is incredibly busy in the morning, and that includes women. Quick, portable items such as sandwiches and breakfast breads continue to be the most commonly offered entrees and sides, according to Technomic’s 2017 Retailer Meal Solutions report, but what if more c-stores were to think outside of that box to include more global, unique offerings that offer just as much portability?

Research shows that more consumers are looking for these types of foods; when choosing a prepared item from a retail location, 44% of all consumers say the availability of unique items is important, according to Technomic’s report.

More specifically, Technomic reports that 31% of consumers say the availability of ethnic items is important in their purchase decision of prepared foods/beverages.

This makes sense, considering “street food” (such as pupusas, dumplings, empanadas and more) took the No. 3 spot as one of the hottest food trends, according to the National Restaurant Association’s 2018 “What’s Hot” chef survey.   El Monterey Breakfast Empanadas hit on this trend and have launched an all new Egg, Bacon, Cheese & Potato Breakfast Empanada to go along with the Egg, Sausage, Cheese & Potato Breakfast Empanada that won the CSP Best New Product Award in 2017.

Re-focus on store merchandising and cleanliness

Store layout has an impact on the ability to attract more female shoppers. According to Technomic’s Consumer Brand Metrics, 44% of women say that when visiting a retailer, it’s important that the store aisles be easy to navigate. Better signage and in-store customer service pointing women toward the prepared-foods sections could help boost sales in that category.

Cleanliness is also important to women—45% say the store interior being clean is important. Food stations especially should be regularly replenished, wiped down and well-maintained throughout the day, whether it’s a peak time of day or not.  Ensuring that all the popular foods are available and ready to go is key.

Consider health and wellness

When it comes to healthier foods, c-stores aren’t usually known for their lighter fare. Thankfully, though, they’re catching up, offering protein-packed snacks, fresh sandwiches and more. And when it comes to defining a healthy food, some shoppers want fresh foods like fruit, yogurt and more made-to-order meals, but others, especially at breakfast and lunch, might view healthy as more protein-packed, to keep them fuller longer.

Portion sizes are important too, especially for more indulgent items. Smaller-sized handheld items like Tornados on the roller grill and empanadas in the hot case could work well for shoppers seeking a hearty breakfast, lunch or snack to get them through their day in a smaller, portable form without all the extra calories.

Many c-stores these days are choosing to zero-in on younger generation and millennial consumers, but it’s important not to forget about the other rapidly growing, c-store demographic: women. With some minor revisions and re-thought strategies, catering more to women could present c-stores with a whole new, highly profitable outlet for growth. 

This post is sponsored by Ruiz Foodservice

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