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There is much debate about keeping cigarettes out of the hands of young consumers. Survey after survey, study after study, highlights the increased use of tobacco products by today’s youth. However, CSNews’ Realities of the Aisle study found the reality is older consumers are buying cigarettes in the convenience channel.
Overall, 38 percent of respondents said they purchased cigarettes at a c-store in the past month, far outpacing electronic cigarettes (8 percent) and cigars/snuff/chewing tobacco (7 percent). And the numbers point to repeat visits: 22 percent made cigarette purchases between five and nine times a month, while 18 percent made such purchases 15 times or more.
The study also points to cigarettes as a key driver of in-store traffic at convenience stores. Of consumers who shop a c-store almost every day, 58 percent purchase cigarettes. Likewise, 45 percent of consumers who visit a c-store two or three times a week buy cigarettes. The likelihood of buying cigarettes decreases as the number of visits decreases.
Taking a closer look at the impact of age on the segment, consumers aged 25–34 are more likely to make a cigarette purchase when they shop at a c-store (48 percent). The likelihood declines as age increases past this point: 42 percent of 35- to 44-year-olds, 38 percent of 45- to 54-year-olds and 31 percent of consumers 55 years old and up. Also interesting, the income group most often making that c-store trip for a pack of smokes earns less than $35,000 a year.
Despite retailers’ push to find revenue streams to make up for declining cigarette sales, adult smokers are still making frequent trips to c-stores to buy cigarettes. Specifically, 28 percent of consumers aged 35 to 44 make the trip between five and nine times a month, while 20 percent of those aged 45 to 54 say they make the trip between 10 and 14 times a month.
In fact, a fair share of consumers in each age group (at least 16 percent), spanning from 18 to older than 55, told CSNews they bought cigarettes at a c-store more than 15 times in the past month.