The Best C-Store Designs for the Gen Z Shopper

Five ways to attract this demographic

There’s been a lot said about millennials and their need for choice, healthy options and engagement when they shop. An even younger generation, Generation Z, is focused on these attributes also, and to perhaps an even greater degree. This carries over to their interaction with convenience stores.


So what should c-stores be doing with design and layout to attract and pique the interest of these young shoppers? Here are a few ideas.

Provide a pleasant environment

The Gen Z cohort—those born between 1995 and 2015—have grown up in the digital age. Their experience is online, and they are accustomed to the world of shopping at online retailers such as Amazon, where they have variety at their fingertips and the user interface is easy-to-use and intuitive. The brick-and-mortar environment needs to reflect this point of reference, with a clean, well-lit space and clear signage, as well as easy access to a variety of offerings, such as a range of coffee flavors, syrups and spices.

Give them choice

Gen Z is used to options, so c-stores need to recognize this and satisfy their need to try different brands and taste profiles. They also like to customize, so opening the door to more personalization of food items is likely to go over well with this young group. To encourage customization, it is worth considering whether coffee brewing should take place in a separate area with dispensers in the coffee bar, or if the coffee is better brewed and served at the brewer. Weight of the equipment can be considered in this situation, as the water tanks, when full, will be heavy, and thus may be only appropriate to install in one section of the store.

Go international

This generation has come of age in an era when international and ethnic foods are common and plentiful. They likely will gravitate to hot and spicy and sweet and sour flavors. And as this demographic likes to be social and share their experiences with others, these shoppers may get a kick out of taking a photo of a new or interesting product and showing it to their friends before bringing it to the register. If these shoppers do purchase and like the product, retailers can bet that they’ll share it on social media, too.

Offer visually pleasing displays

Gen Z is a tactile bunch—they like to touch and handle products prior to purchasing them. As a result, it may make good business sense to create displays that appeal to the senses. And instead of putting these displays behind glass or in an unreachable location, let these young shoppers touch them. It’s also a good idea to keep the eye-catching displays at eye level, too, where they’re most likely to be seen.

Keep the digital orientation in mind

As Gen Z is more plugged-in than any other generation, c-stores need to adjust to this mindset. This can be done by offering charging stations and improving the point-of-sale experience, with the goal of keeping lines checkout lines to a minimum. Along these lines, free Wi-Fi is practically a must. A store’s strong digital presence also will appeal to these savvy young shoppers, who can then access incentives and coupons and take advantage of reward programs when they shop.

Attracting Gen Z shoppers is as simple as appealing to the routines of their daily lives. They love social media and their smart phones, and they also appreciate being able to judge for themselves whether a product is worth buying. With great displays, internet connectivity, interesting and customizable foods and a clean, bright space, Gen Z customers are sure to come in—and come back.

This post is sponsored by FETCO

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