Spotlight on the C-Store Shopper

Retailers discuss ways of understanding, engaging current and potential consumers.

Melissa Vonder Haar, Freelance Writer

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According to MillerCoors data, POS price signage may be the best way to communicate a good deal. Sabin shared that stores with price-related POS had 88% more beer shoppers, 46% more buyers and 64% more sales. Just as important, consumers spent 50% more time browsing the category, netting an extra 8 seconds of engagement.

Engaging Singletons

Conference attendees were also treated to insights on a fast-growing and high-spending segment: singletons. While most people understand the definition of being single, a “singleton” refers to someone who chooses to live alone as well. This segment was at the center of author and social scientist Eric Klinenberg’s session.
While in the 1950s, choosing to live on ones’ own was considered “sick,” “neurotic” or “immoral” by the general population, that is not even close to the case now. In research for his book “Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise & Surprising Appeal of Living Alone,” Klinenberg uncovered the following statistics:
  • Nearly three in 10 American households today consist of just one person.
  • Nearly 50% of those one-person households are ages 35 to 65. And in recent decades, the greatest increase has been with those younger than 35.
  • Nearly half of U.S. adults are single.
“As a social scientist, you just don’t see drastic changes like this,” Klinenberg said. “In a way, it’s revolutionary.
And though the cost of living—not to mention the cost of living alone—goes up significantly in urban areas, the highest concentration of one-person households can be found in cities such as New York (where 32% of households consist of one person), Seattle (42%), Atlanta (45%) and Washington, D.C. (48%). The data suggests that people with money are not only choosing to live in expensive urban locales, but also choosing to invest in living in expensive urban locales on their own. 
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2010 Consumer Expenditure Survey further highlights the spending power of single citizens, reporting that the group spends approximately $1.9 trillion annually, with the average singleton boasting $34,471 in discretionary spending. That’s a good $6,000 more discretionary spending than the average married couple and more than $10,000 beyond that of married couples with children. 
This spending has benefited everything from the global ready-meal market—which is up nearly 40% since 2002—to the real-estate market. In fact, Klinenberg credits single females—who are two times more likely to buy a home than their male counterparts—with driving the post-recession real-estate recovery.
“The spending power of singles is tremendous,” Klinenberg said. “But despite their buying power, singles are a greatly ignored or misunderstood demographic.”
And though urban-dwelling singletons may not seem like an obvious group for c-store retailers to target, Klinenberg was quick to point out that some of the greatest concentrations of single men are in construction- and manual-labor-filled rural regions, such as the Dakotas and Wyoming.
Whether it’s through ready-made or frozen meals for these rural-dwelling men or single-serve ice cream or yogurts for city-dwelling females, retailers should at least consider this demographic, Klinenberg said.


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