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ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- Convenience store operators do not have the luxury of standing still, and only those that create engaging shopping experiences will position themselves to move forward into the next era of retail growth, according to a new consumer insights report.
The NACS/Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council (CCRRC) report, "C-Growth: Using Shopper Research to Grow C-Store Sales," revealed that contemporary shoppers want more control and rewards out of their visits -- or a little of both.
"We live in an era when retailers can differentiate themselves by creating engaging experiences" said Bill Bishop, research director, NACS/CCRRC. "This is a novel concept for the c-store industry, which defines itself as efficiently selling specific products at certain prices with a focus on speed."
The first installment of this report -- based, in part, on research conducted by TNS Landis -- was released today. The second portion will be released on March 19 and the final installment released prior to the annual NACS State of the Industry Summit, taking place April 3-5.
"The report encompasses valuable information including the results of in-depth qualitative shopper research conducted in fall 2011," explained John Essegian, executive vice president, TNS Landis. "It builds on past studies conducted by the council and provides context about the value of shopper research. It's a concise and powerful tool to guide c-store executives into a new era of competitive differentiation."
The first part of the report centers around shopper research and why c-store retailers need to expand their focus from traditional consumer research. In addition, it takes a look at a shopper's "hierarchy of needs," including safety, cleanliness, hospitality, simplicity and ease, and time enrichment.
The five needs described by the hierarchy apply to all convenience shoppers; all convenience shopping occasions; and all the channels that serve them, from corner markets and interstate travel shops to dollar stores, drugstores and quick-serve restaurants, according to the report.
Of the five essentials, shoppers must first see safety, cleanliness and hospitality, the report noted. For example, if a store doesn't feel safe, customers won't frequent it and if it is not clean, they won't stay longer than they have to.
"These basic needs must be addressed before shoppers will give a retailer more business, but many stores still neglect them," Bishop said.
According to the report, if convenience store operators look at only consumer research, they will miss a huge part of what the shopper is seeking from the store. They will also miss a lot should they only look to demographic research. Shopper research techniques include activation workshops, controlled store tests, eye-tracking, filming, online interviews and online shelf tests, among others.