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SCHAUMBURG, Ill. — Convenience Store News' inaugural Convenience Foodservice Exchange event kicked off with a dynamic research presentation that compared consumers’ view of foodservice innovation ideas with those of actual convenience store retailers.
In the opening session, entitled “Exploring New, Innovative Foodservice Offerings at C-stores,” Randi Etzin, director of research and strategy for Carbonview Research, a sister company of Convenience Store News, and David Mills, president of Mills Consulting Group, compared the product, technology and service offerings most preferred by consumers with retailers’ assessment of the viability of those same offerings.
Weighing more than a dozen innovative ideas from each side (retailers and consumers), the duo found that while consumers prefer offerings like a 24-hour, secure, product dispensing unit outside the store and drive-thru windows, retailers tend to balk at ideas they feel are too difficult or costly.
However, the research did highlight three ideas that resonated with both sides. An H2O Flavored Water Station was preferred by consumers because it allows new customization, while retailers viewed the innovation as a “quick win” that is easy to execute and would have a high impact on the store.
The retailers also agreed that two other ideas — a Create Your Own Burrito Bar and loyalty programs — are also highly impactful and worth the effort, even if they would be harder to execute.
“Develop ideas of what drives customer satisfaction [and] then use a disciplined, fact-based approach to minimize the risk of missteps and enhance the probability of success,” advised Mills.
Convenience Store News, a division of EnsembleIQ, hosted the inaugural Convenience Foodservice Exchange at the Renaissance Schaumburg Convention Center Hotel on Sept. 15-16. It is the only conference and exhibition focused entirely on convenience store foodservice. The event drew approximately 50 retailers, representing more than 22,000 stores.