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CHICAGO — Over the past couple of years, the convenience store industry has experienced a noticeable shift away from traditional c-store products toward foodservice, an area once relegated to quick-service restaurants (QSRs). C-stores today are upping the competition by offering fresher, higher-quality, grab-and-go food options.
But exactly how big is the convenience channel's threat to QSRs, and vice versa? That is a question research firm Technomic Inc. set out to answer. Data published in Technomic's recent "C-Store Consumer Brand Metrics: Shopper Insights" report suggests that the competitive foodservice landscape for c-stores is heavily made up of QSRs.
For example, 35 percent of consumers report that QSRs were a viable alternative for their last c-store foodservice visit, compared to 25 percent who report that they would have gone to another c-store. Furthermore, when asked to name specific alternative locations, consumers were far more likely to mention QSRs than any other type of location, according to Technomic.
Convenience stores still need to do some work as they develop foodservice programs. Technomic research shows that consumers seem to expect less from c-store foodservice programs and tend to rate the foodservice quality at c-stores lower than that of QSRs.
Despite the perceived performance difference, convenience stores have been making in-roads in the foodservice market and their convenience advantage will continue to draw customers. Overcoming the food quality perception gap will be important to building competitive foodservice programs, Technomic stated.