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NATIONAL REPORT — It’s often said that 80 percent of a convenience store’s sales come from just 20 percent of its customers. In new, exclusive consumer research on the demographics and shopping behavior of c-store shoppers, Convenience Store News uncovered several insights on who these “core shoppers” are and what keeps them coming back to c-stores again and again.
For this project, “core” customers were defined as those who make frequent visits to c-stores on a daily or weekly basis, and those who indicate they buy in-store items "every time" or "almost every time" after purchasing gas at a c-store. Not only do these shoppers spend more in an average trip, but they also do so habitually, making it vital that c-store operators know what they want and deliver.
Here are five illuminating findings from the CSNews research:
1. Consumers aged 35-44 are significantly more likely to be daily or weekly c-store shoppers, and those aged 25-34 are significantly more likely to buy in-store merchandise after purchasing gas. Older customers, aged 55 and up, are significantly less likely to make daily or weekly c-store visits, or to stop in for a post-gas merchandise purchase.
2. Whether their shopping trips are to get a take-home meal for the family or to indulge the kids with a special treat, parents have great potential to be core shoppers. Fifty-seven percent of consumers with at least one child under the age of 18 in the household report visiting c-stores on a daily basis, while 42.9 percent visit on a weekly basis. Parents are similarly much more likely to regularly buy in-store merchandise with gas, as 58 percent do so during most or all gas fill-ups.
3. Customers who make the most visits to c-stores are also among the most loyal to a particular store, with 70.5 percent of daily shoppers saying they typically shop at the same store each time, as do 62.8 percent of weekly shoppers. In comparison, only 56 percent of customers who visit less regularly stick to the same store. Those who make the most in-store merchandise purchases with gas are a loyal bunch, too, with 70.8 percent returning to the same c-store again and again.
4. What draws core customers to the c-store? There are a lot of reasons, but the most popular ones cited are the purchase of gasoline and to buy immediately consumable food and beverages, such as snacks, fountain drinks and prepared food. Additionally, core shoppers are more likely to cite the purchase of lottery tickets, newspapers and magazines, cigarettes, and ancillary services such as using the ATM.
5. When it comes to marketing to core shoppers, customers who regularly buy in-store merchandise with gas are significantly more likely than others to respond to virtually every form of marketing. Daily/weekly c-store shoppers respond more strongly to digital marketing. Mobile app offers, promotions or messages on social media, and text messages, along with word-of-mouth, are all significantly more likely to influence their decision to visit a c-store compared to other shoppers.
For more of the findings from our exclusive research study, look in the April issue of Convenience Store News for the Single Store Owner.