Consumers Shop C-Stores as Regularly as Supermarkets

Ethnic brands, multi-lingual employees, knowing names important to consumers, says survey

NEW YORK -- In an effort to understand how the consumer shops in convenience stores, Social Science Research Solutions (SSRS) conducted a survey of 1,000 U.S. men and women for Imprint Plus, a manufacturer of magnetic name badge and signage systems. When asked how often consumers shop in a c-store, 59% of the respondents reported "more than once a week," with that number increasing to more than 70% among 18 to 44 year olds. Surprisingly, 25% of the consumers surveyed reported that they shop in a convenience store more or as frequently as they shop at the supermarket or grocery store.

"Virtually every consumer today shops at a convenience store, with only 6% of the respondents stating that they never shop there," said Marla Kott, CEO of Richmond, B.C.-based Imprint Plus.

"Most of the convenience store shoppers are married (48%), employed (63%) with the majority (80%) living in metro regions of the country," she said. "Given these numbers, every national consumer products manufacturer, such as Coke, Pepsi, Hershey's, Kraft, Frito-Lay, Nabisco, Welch's, must be targeting these consumers, so excellent customer service can make a difference."

Among the top purchases at c-stores are drinks such as soda, bottled water or juice (29%); or snacks and candy (21%). Other purchases included gasoline (12%); milk or dairy products (11%); and cigarettes (10%). One third of all respondents (33%) said that it was important for a c-store to carry ethnic branded products, such as Indian, Chinese or Spanish foods. The number rose to 41% among 18 to 34 year olds.

In addition, 42% of consumers think it is important for employees to be fluent in a language other than English, reflecting on the global shopping experience. This number jumps to 51% among 18 to 34 year olds.

When shopping in a c-store, 35% reported that it is important to know a person by name when doing business. The percentage increases to 39% among those consumers in the 35 to 44 year old age demographic.

In previous Imprint Plus consumer surveys, 76% stated that they had more trust in a business and considered the company more professional when their employees wore name badges. Surprisingly, the percentages were higher overall among the 18 to 34 year old demographic.

"Customers place a higher level of trust in businesses that visibly brand and distinguish their staff. Identifying the employee with a professional name badge that promotes accountability and a commitment to customer relations, can enhance the shopping experience," said Kott.