CHICAGO -- Craveable foods can come in countless forms, from the usual pizza and burger suspects to indulgent hand-held snacks and healthy pick-me-up salads and smoothies. While craveability differs from person to person, retailers cash in on cravings the most when consumers feel as if only one place can satisfy their hankering.
According to Technomic’s Consumer Brand Metrics data, here are the top five convenience-store chains that consumers say do a very good job of offering craveable items they can’t get anywhere else …
Craveability score: 46.6%
After launching its ¡AhhBurritos! food truck in 2013, Ricker’s further invested in its foodservice program this past summer. Its food truck centers on fresh, build-your-own Mexican food, including burritos, salads, nachos, tacos and quesadillas. The chain is now expanding its on-premise salad lineup and rolling out new pizza, breadstick and deli sandwich offerings.
Technomic’s 2016 Generational Consumer Trend Report shows Mexican is the most preferred ethnic cuisine among millennials and Gen Xers. In fact, more Gen Xers now than in 2014 say they would be likely to order Mexican food from a foodservice establishment at least occasionally if it were offered.
2. Rutter’s Farm Stores
Craveability score: 46.2%
Rutter’s craveability score increased from 45.5% in 2015, which allowed it to surpass Wawa for the second-highest ranking. Rutter’s offers a wide spectrum of prepared foods, from sun-dried-tomato wraps and salads to its new bacon-wrapped cheddar hot dogs and the buzzed-about Rte. 30 Burger, with cheese, bacon and burger patties smashed between grilled-cheese sandwiches. The c-store chain this past summer launched a new made-to-order pizza program, featuring two different sizes, 50 topping choices and call-ahead ordering.
Technomic's 2016 Pizza Consumer Trend Report shows cravings are the top purchase driver for pizza, with nearly six in 10 consumers ordering pizza on a recent occasion because they were in the mood for it.
Craveability score: 44.2%
Women are driving Wawa’s overall craveability score. Half of Wawa’s female guests (50.4%) think the brand is very good at offering unique, craveable items, compared to 35.9% of its male guests.
Wawa is well-known for its wide array of hoagies, and it often offers seasonal and limited-time varieties. Technomic’s 2016 Future of LSR Consumer Trend Report shows that at fast-food chains, more women than men emphasize seasonal menu items as a traffic driver. One Thanksgiving-themed hoagie LTO stands out: The Gobbler, a combination of stuffing, turkey and cranberry sauce on a fresh-baked roll.
4. Family Express
Craveability score: 43.8%
Men are the reason Family Express made this list. Nearly half of Family Express’s male clientele (48.3%), vs. 37.1% of its female clientele, say it excels at offering craveable food items. This fall, the chain debuted a hot foodservice program, with made-to-order breakfast sandwiches and pizzas. New menu items include a Six-Cheese Garlic Pizza, BBQ Bacon Chicken Pizza and a Breakfast Pizza.
Doughnuts are also a trademark menu item for Family Express, which makes them in a central bakery. Doughnuts are well suited to be craveable snacks. According to Technomic’s 2016 Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend Report, about two-fifths of consumers say they are more likely to order indulgent, craveable items for snacks rather than for meals. The chain’s Orange Dreamsicle Doughnut brings a freezer favorite to the bakery case.
5. Fas Mart
Craveability score: 43.5%
Fas Mart’s foodservice program was built on its signature fried chicken offering—certainly a craveable staple. In 2013, the chain expanded its program to include healthier and more portable options such as yogurt parfaits, salads, and deli and panini sandwiches. It also offers a wide array of beverages, including seasonal options such as its Pumpkin Spice Cappuccino in the fall and its Salted Chocolate Caramel Cappuccino, debuted last spring.