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    Variety, Quality & Price Are Barriers to C-store Fill-In Trips

    General Mills research examines shopper attitudes.

    MINNEAPOLIS — Convenience stores are a convenient and quick option for consumers who only need one or two items to carry them over until their next grocery store visit. To help c-store operators capitalize on this opportunity, General Mills Convenience & Foodservice conducted a survey to understand shoppers' attitudes and needs for these quick trips.

    C-stores are already somewhat popular for these between-grocery trips, with 19 percent of surveyed consumers reporting they visit c-stores most often for fill-in trips. This is less than the 32 percent who visit grocery stores most often for fill-in trips, but more than the 11 percent who turn to mass merchants or supercenters most often.

    Grocery staples that are part of shoppers' everyday routines and therefore can't wait until the next stock-up trip are the most common items purchased on fill-in trips. This includes milk (purchased on 57 percent of all fill-in trips in all channels), bread (50 percent), soda (42 percent), eggs (39 percent) and salty snacks (28 percent). Additionally, 76 percent of shoppers want full-size offerings and not smaller package sizes.

    Convenience store shoppers are less satisfied with their c-store fill-in shopping trips than they are with their c-store immediate consumption trips. Thirty-six percent say they are extremely satisfied with fill-in trips, while 57 percent are extremely satisfied with immediate-consumption trips.

    Shoppers cited lack of variety, low quality and too-high prices as the top barriers to visiting c-stores for fill-in trips, according to General Mills' research.

    "Convenience stores are more convenient than many of their competitors, like grocery stores or mass merchants, for quick fill-in trips," said Lindsey Shepherd, consumer insights researcher at General Mills Convenience and Foodservice. "To help c-store retailers make their store a destination for fill-in trips and increase satisfaction among shoppers, we have developed a helpful framework, 'F.I.L.L.,' with tips for them to capture the fill-in shopper."

    The "F.I.L.L.: How to Capture the Fill-in Shopper at C-stores" steps are:

    • F: Full-Sized Staples. Offer full-sized grocery items where it counts — milk, bread, soda, eggs and salty snacks.
    • I: In & Out. Continue delivering on convenience; shoppers choose c-stores because they can get in and out in less than two minutes.
    • L: Lift Quality. Focus on quality, especially on perishable grocery items such as cheese and fresh produce.
    • L: Lower Prices. Offer value with competitively priced staple items.

    Nearly 3,200 c-store food and beverage shoppers aged 18-64 participated in General Mills' online survey, fielded in November 2014.

    The Minneapolis-based General Mills Convenience & Foodservice division serves the convenience, foodservice and bakery industries.

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