CHICAGO — Consumers want the best of both worlds—healthy and indulgent—when it comes to snacks. Half of customers said they would visit c-stores more often if they offered healthier items, according to the 2019 Q2 C-Store Consumer MarketBrief, conducted by CSP sister research firm Technomic. However, nearly the same amount (51%) of consumers also said they would like c-stores to offer more craveable, “treat-yourself” types of indulgences.
“Providing consumers [with] the opportunity to meet both health-conscious and indulgence-focused needs through a trip to the c-store will help operators stay top of mind with consumers,” the report said.
Here are four insights into the battle between healthy vs. indulgent snacking …
Consumers don’t look to c-stores for healthy products
Convenience stores have fallen behind supermarkets and restaurants when it comes to healthy food offerings. Thirty-eight percent of consumers said they purchase healthy items during most supermarket visits, and 20% and 14% said the same for restaurants and convenience stores, respectively, according to Technomic.
Consumers don't buy healthy options at c-stores for various reasons, such as the products being too expensive (35% of consumers said so); the fact that c-stores aren’t top of mind for healthy options (35%); they prefer indulgent items at c-stores (18%); the products lack a fresh taste/appearance (17%) at c-stores; there are no healthy options available (14%); and their favorite healthy brands are not available at c-stores (14%).
Men are consuming more healthy c-store snacks
Twenty-nine percent of consumers—and 35% of male customers—said they purchase healthy snacks at c-stores at least once a week, which outpaces breakfast (24%), lunch (26%) and dinner (20%), according to Technomic. Men are more likely to purchase healthy items across meal parts because they are more frequent consumers of c-store foodservice in general, Technomic said.
What healthy snacks do consumers buy?
More than a third (34%) of consumers said they purchase fruit at c-stores, which ranks atop all healthy snack items for the c-store channel. This was followed by granola bars (31%), crackers (30%), fruit and vegetable juice (27%), trail mix (27%) and yogurt (23%).
This reflects that snacks are the most common meal part for which consumers purchase healthy items at c-stores, and bundling snacks with full meals or promotions—such as buy one, get one free better-for-you snack items—may be a way to boost healthy sales in c-stores, Technomic said.
What indulgent snacks do consumers buy?
More than half (54%) of consumers purchase candy at c-stores, which ranks atop all indulgent items for the c-store channel. Candy was followed by ice cream (48%), doughnuts (39%), cookies (38%), cakes (19%) and brownies (19%).