CHICAGO -- The African-American population in the United States will swell to 74 million by 2060—nearly 30 million more than in 2014, according to U.S. Census Bureau projections. As African-Americans grow demographically and financially—the consumer group’s median household income rose by more than $2,000 from 2015 to 2016—so will their spending power, opening doors for retailers aiming to increase visits. Although 70% of African-American patrons visit convenience stores weekly, per Technomic’s Core Consumer Evolution Report, powered by Ignite, operators may benefit even more from catering to this booming demographic.
According to Technomic’s Consumer Brand Metrics, powered by Ignite, African-Americans value quality service and hospitality at c-stores more than any other ethnic group. Here are three ways retailers can leverage these insights to better serve this consumer group ...
1. Be friendly
More than 45% of African-Americans—compared to 39% of all demographics—say friendly service is an important c-store attribute. Although displayed in a variety of forms, c-store friendliness may often include employee attentiveness, helpfulness and patience with customers.
Salt Lake City-based Maverik Inc. recently started training millennial employees on handling offline interactions, as they’re used to communicating over the phone so frequently. Operators worked with the young employees on eye contact, thinking before reacting and listening skills—all traits presumably associated with friendliness. Nancy Couch, loss prevention and safety director for Maverik, told CSP Daily News that since the chain began investing more in employees’ social intelligence, they’ve seen reduced negative interactions with co-workers and guests alike.
2. Simplify payments
Efficiency is key to African-Americans, as more than 40% say it’s important their payments are handled in a timely fashion. With 34% of all demographics agreeing, simplifying payments is crucial in attracting these patrons. The rise of mobile payments, for instance, has helped as customers merely take a few seconds to purchase their items. Last year, Shell and Phillips 66, both based in Houston, signed multiyear agreements to accept Chase Pay at all U.S. locations. At the time of its implementation, Craig Schneider, general manager and vice president of retail marketing for Shell North America, said adding Chase Pay will deliver a simplified, differentiated and personalized customer experience.
3. Educate staff
Intelligent employees may drive business among African-Americans, as 34% of the consumer group—nearly 7 percentage points higher than the overall average—say it’s important that c-stores have knowledgeable staff members. In retail and foodservice in general, instilling knowledge often comes in the form of employee training. Love’s Travel Stops, Oklahoma City, for instance, which began repairing car tires in 2008, announced in August that the chain is expected to be oil-change ready by 2018. To prepare employees, certified instructors now bring mobile training labs to Love’s locations, where they discuss the latest techniques in diagnostics, troubleshooting and more. Love’s mechanics also must pass written and practical skills tests before becoming certified, and locations now feature training modules of diesel truck systems.