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    General Mills Studies the Breakfast Battlefield

    Freshness and made-to-order options increases satisfaction.

    MINNEAPOLIS -- The breakfast daypart is a major growth area in the convenience industry, but to truly win the "breakfast battlefield," store operators must understand the strengths and opportunities available to the channel.

    To help them accomplish this, General Mills Convenience & Foodservice recently conducted a survey of convenience store shoppers aged 18 to 54, who buy food or beverages in the morning from a fast-food restaurant, coffee shop, c-store or fast-casual restaurant at least monthly.

    The survey results show that c-store shoppers are prime away-from-home morning food consumers. More than half of respondents said they visit a fast-food restaurant or bring food from home, but eat it on the go during an average week. Additionally, 48 percent visit a c-store and 45 percent visit a coffee shop.

    Morning consumers keep specific factors in mind when choosing where to buy food, General Mills found. The top five factors are: fresh-tasting food (62 percent rated this as extremely important); great-tasting food (61 percent); a clean location (61 percent); a convenient location (58 percent); and good value for the money (56 percent).

    Respondents also shared why they don't visit c-stores more frequently despite their ability to let consumers get in and out quickly. The top reason cited was the food itself and its lack of freshness, quality or better-for-you options (51 percent), followed by a lack of variety, including not enough hot or bakery options (39 percent); the physical properties of the store, such as a lack of drive-thru (32 percent); and price/value (32 percent).

    Overall, c-stores with made-to-order offerings have satisfaction levels on par with quick-service restaurants (QSRs) and coffee shops. Fifty-six percent of consumers stated they were "very satisfied" with their morning purchases at c-stores with made-to-order programs, while among c-stores without this capability, only 33 percent reported the same level of satisfaction with their morning foods.

    "Convenience stores have a great foundation for winning at breakfast," said Chris Quam, consumer insights manager for General Mills Convenience & Foodservice. "Their convenient location and speed of service is an undeniable advantage. True, consumers have concerns about the freshness and quality of convenience store food. But the fact that made-to-order stores achieve satisfaction levels on par with QSRs and coffee shops demonstrates that operators who focus on freshness, quality and value can win."

    The survey was conducted online in mid-November among 319 c-store shoppers.

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