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ST. LOUIS — People have an average attention span of 8 seconds, down from 12 seconds in 2000. A goldfish has an attention span of 9 seconds.
“What does that mean for convenience store retailers?” asked Laura Lynn Freck, shopper insights manager for Red Bull North America, at Convenience Store News’ 2015 Beverage Retailing Summit, held last week at Busch Stadium, home of Major League Baseball’s St. Louis Cardinals.
In her general session presentation, Freck discussed the overall c-store landscape, in-store shopper behavior and the important role beverages play in the total c-store mix.
One important finding of Red Bull’s 2014 Global C-store Path Tracker research, which included on-site interviews with customers at ampm, Chevron and Circle K, was that shoppers in c-stores are on “auto-pilot” more than any other retail format.
“Shoppers are like robots in a c-store,” said Freck. “The majority choose the store on their path to or from someplace. Eighty percent said they went to the store ‘out of habit’ and the most frequent shoppers tended to be male and millennials.”
Half of the shoppers said they went to the c-store on a weekly basis, and 70 percent of all shoppers were on a beverage mission, according to the Red Bull research. Upon entering the store, 84 percent head straight for a specific product and 56 percent head straight to the register to pay.
“C-stores need to grab a shopper’s budget — the majority spend less than $5 — fast since most shop in under 5 minutes,” said Freck.
Energy drink customers are even quicker customers: 48 percent shop in under 4 minutes, compared with 37 percent of non-energy drink customers who said they shop in the same time.
What’s more, once inside the store, shoppers are bombarded with an average of 250 different messages on signs, counters, shelves and cooler doors. But despite all that messaging, two-thirds of customers couldn’t recall any point-of-sale communication when queried about it after shopping.
Freck told the retailers in attendance at the Summit that repetition is key. Messaging needs to be clean, consistent and repeated along the path to purchase.
She concluded by emphasizing that beverages are as important as fuel to a c-store operator. In Red Bull’s research, customers were equally likely to say beverages or fuel were the main reason for their visit to the c-store. However, even among those who said fuel was their primary purpose, 53 percent of them said they also purchased a drink.
Among all shoppers who make a second purchase, beverages and food are the most common grabs.
“Drinks provide an easy opportunity to drive additional purchases,” said Freck.
And energy drink customers are the most likely to spend more. According to the study, 25 percent of energy drinkers purchased “more items than they intended” to and they were 20 percent more likely than non-energy drinkers to purchase two items.