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SAN ANTONIO — Shifting demographics are prompting CST Brands Inc. to target older Millennials as this generation grows larger than the Baby Boomers. The company's Corner Store convenience chain is now testing products to draw in these consumers.
"The Baby Boomer generation is trending down in their spending because they're getting ready for retirement," Hal Adams, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for CST, told the San Antonio Business Journal. "The Millennial generation has a larger spending palette, so they're a great target customer."
The San Antonio-based company is focusing on older Millennials because data shows teenagers are increasingly delaying getting their driver's license because they can't afford a car or don't need their own transportation. As a result, young drivers are less likely to step inside a c-store for a drink or snack while stopping at a gas station to fuel up.
"Teens grow up and become independent at the same time they become spenders," Adams said, adding that older Millennials are different and good for the c-store industry because they are willing to experiment with different flavors and nontraditional eating places. They are also more likely to snack frequently instead of sitting down for full meals.
To attract these consumers, CST is working to add the products they want. Millennial-friendly fresh, healthy snacks and grocery items were highlighted at the company's annual trade show, held Tuesday at San Antonio's Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center. More than 1,000 Corner Store managers attended this show, where they sampled 600-plus products from more than 100 suppliers.
CST also recently developed plans for expanded dairy and produce offerings at its larger stores after it acquired central New York-based Nice N Easy Grocery Shoppes last year. It is now testing these additions through a four-store pilot program in the San Antonio region.
"We think there is an opportunity for us to be a niche fill-in for folks that enjoy large supermarkets but can't go there every day," Adams said. "It's very nice to be able to park right in front of our store, pop in, buy five items and go home, throw spaghetti in a pot with some sauce and have a salad and go."
Healthy options weren't the only standout products at the trade show. Chicken puff pies, hot pecan sticky buns and Shiner Bock beer bratwursts were particularly popular, according to media reports.
Ultimately, the chain will work to give customers what they want, whether it is healthy or indulgent.
"Consumers want convenience," stated CST Chairwoman and CEO Kim Lubel. "As grocery stores get bigger and bigger, our stores get more relevant for a shopping opportunity."