Sep 8, 2015
1:45 pm

Five C-Store Trends You Can’t Afford To Ignore

C-Store Trends

At one time, if your C-store had pop, chips, magazines, jerky and a handful of microwaveable sandwiches – you had most of your bases covered. But there has been a noticeable shift in consumer demand in recent years.

Here are five leading C-Store trends that every operator needs to be aware of. Some aren’t new, but can’t be ignored.

1. Energy drinks are muscling in on cooler space.

Energy drinks such as Red Bull, Monster and Rockstar are becoming the beverage of choice among young male adults and older teens. According to an insightful article on by Katie Clemency (Principal of the Cambridge Group) sales grew 40% between 2010 and 2012 – making it one of the fastest growing beverage categories.

Interestingly, Ms. Clemency notes that busy young mothers have emerged as a new market for energy drinks, as they seek a little boost. No wonder we’re seeing more space being dedicated to these products.

2. People in hurry want fast food available on-site.

Everyone seems to be in a rush these days. The more things they can do in a single pit stop, the better. We’re increasingly noticing that if hungry customers have a choice of filling up at a location with fast food (versus one with chocolate bars and chips), they’ll choose the former.

Affordable and easy to use equipment makes it easier than ever to expand your offering of hot food products (from hot dogs, to pizza slices to taquitos). Or you can bring a fast food outlet into your C-store.

(Hot Food Options is a topic we’ll explore in greater depth in a future blog). 

3. That being said, a growing number are looking for healthy food choices:

Focussing on fast food snack choices no longer cut the mustard. Today, many Canadians are kicking the junk food habit and are seeking healthier, more nutritious alternatives when their stomach grumbles. And, they are insisting their children follow suit.

Items such as fresh fruit and vegetable trays are gaining in popularity. Apples, bananas, strawberries and mixed fruit offerings make for quick and delicious snacks.

Start with a modest selection (you’re not running a farmer’s market after all!) Only stock as much as you can sell. And it is important that your items are fresh. No one wants to buy a brown banana.

4. Specialty coffee is picking up steam.

While it’s not a new trend, more and more C-stores are realizing that the demand for specialty coffee is here to stay. For brewed coffee, people want a choice of light and dark roasts and blends. Many are demanding fancy brand names.

New automated dispensers are making it possible for C-stores to offer decent lattes and cappuccinos without having an on-site barista. And in the summer, slushy ice coffees continue to be a popular choice for quenching thirst.

5. Arggghh… don’t tell me I forgot my charger!?!

You don’t need us to tell you how attached people have become with their phones. For these folks, a dead battery is akin to being banished from society.

Savvy C-Store owners are selling low-cost chargers, cables and headphones to customers who left their chords on the counter at home. It’s a great “in a pinch” item to have at the front counter. Be sure you cover the popular smartphone brands (iPhone 5 and 6 and Samsung Galaxy are musts.)

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