Foodservice

How Convenience Stores Can Win Over Millennial Women

Three key areas of focus for retailers

Convenience-store shopper demographics are changing—and they’re no longer limited to “Bubba”—male, blue-collar consumers. In fact, according to Technomic’s Spring 2018 Convenience-Store Consumer MarketBrief, 50% of women visit c-stores every week, so it’s important to make sure a store caters to that demographic as well—and to millennial women, in particular.

woman with coffees

Attracting millennial women to c-stores involves some of the same strategies that would be used to attract any other demographic: maintaining a clean and well-lit store, offering what they want to buy and offering more amenities like mobile pay or delivery services. But drilling down into those strategies, it’s essential to know exactly what these consumers want to buy and what other amenities they’re looking for. Take a look.

Keeping up appearances

Cleanliness is top of mind for women when visiting a c-store. According to Technomic’s C-Store Consumer MarketBrief, women’s visits are encouraged by cleanliness, followed by food/beverage quality and freshness/cleanliness of bathrooms. In order for retailers to harness dollars from millennial women, they should ensure that the stores and forecourts are clean, well-lit and safe, and that the food and drink options are healthy, but craveable. Foods should not only look fresh; they should also have expiration date time stamps so that customers can know with a quick glance when the food was made.

Offering what they need and want

Female customers most often visit c-stores for gasoline, foodservice beverages and retail food—in that order, according to Technomic’s C-Store MarketBrief. Among all segments, millennial women are most likely to purchase the most types of beverages—and in fact, coffee and non-coffee beverages are the most common purchases. Jim Fiene, of Midwest Retail Group, pointed to a promotion about iced coffee, in particular. The promotion that 7-Eleven stores ran over the summer, offering a 32-ounce cup for iced coffee drinks, was especially popular among women. “I would tell you it was 95% female,” he says. “It was all female customers coming in, filling the cup with ice, filling it with coffee…It was just amazing to watch this happen, because it never happened in the 7-Elevens before…It was huge.”

More amenities and choice

When asked what would encourage them to purchase more prepared foods at retail locations such as c-stores, 35% of consumers ages 18- to 34-years old say that better value and lower prices would do so, while 37% of the same age group said that fresh, made-to-order options would entice them, according to Technomic’s 2017 Retailer Meal Solutions report. And, according to data from Whirley-DrinkWorks! 2018 Dispensed Beverage Roundtable, more than two-thirds of busy balancers (a segment largely comprised of millennial women) agree that they would be very likely to order healthier options if they were offered.

For retailers, this means expanding foodservice options. Made-to-order foods and customizable dispensed beverages are just one way that can be done. From sandwiches to hot pizzas, and new and exciting dispensed beverages such as sparkling water or horchata, updating foodservice offerings is a great way to attract millennial women who would perhaps otherwise get food and drinks from fast-casual chains. According to Technomic’s Retailer Meal Solutions report, younger consumers are more likely to purchase lunch and snacks at c-stores, rather than breakfast or dinner, so retailers should highlight these offerings as well.

Beyond food, c-stores should tap into other amenities such as delivery service. According to Technomic’s C-Store MarketBrief, 59% of consumers 18- to 34-years old use third-party delivery at least once a month for c-stores, and 68% say they would be likely to use third-party delivery services for c-stores if it was offered.

Retailers should also consider implementing loyalty programs. Because loyalty is a big part of c-store business, retailers should closely consider what type of rewards should be offered and perhaps offer different rewards to different demographics or even tailor rewards to each consumer’s habits. Using data from the loyalty program, retailers can see what customers are purchasing most and tailor their rewards accordingly.

What else?

Millennial women, perhaps like everyone else, are looking for lower gas prices. Retailers can offer deals tied to beverages and gasoline purchases. For instance, premium refill mugs are appealing to millennial women, so offering fuel deals when they use their mugs is an opportunity to draw them in.

When it comes to harnessing the spending power of millennial women, c-store retailers should keep cleanliness top of mind, followed by offering better selections of food and drink, loyalty programs and delivery and promotions tied to repeat visits. By appealing to their daily routines and needs, retailers can capture more of their spend.

This post is sponsored by Whirley-DrinkWorks!

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