Millennials & C-stores: The Perfect Fit?

JERSEY CITY, N.J. -- The rise of Millennials is good news for convenience store retailers because this generation likes to shop at c-stores -- and not just for the traditional categories.

Millennials (those born after 1980) frequent c-stores more often than other consumers. Almost three-quarters of Millennials shop at a convenience store at least once a week, compared to 68 percent of total respondents, according to the findings of Convenience Store News' 2014 Realities of the Aisle consumer research study. More Millennials also indicated they shop at c-stores almost every day -- 15 percent vs. 11 percent for total respondents.

CSNews this year partnered with its sister company Carbonview Research Inc. to conduct the exclusive Realities study, which was fielded in February. Electronic interviews were conducted with a total of 1,506 consumers who shop at convenience stores at least once a month. The results were then analyzed to determine how Millennials shop c-stores vs. the other generations.

Why do Millennials shop at convenience stores? The No. 1 reason is to buy beverages, followed by the need to purchase gasoline. This mirrors the top two reasons cited by all respondents to the CSNews study. Millennials differ from the total base, though, in that that they go to convenience stores to buy snacks and candy/gum much more than overall consumers. More Millennials also go to c-stores to buy prepared/fast food and to pick up health and beauty care items.

Millennials who shop at c-stores frequent grocery stores less often than other c-store shoppers. CSNews' research showed that 72 percent of these Millennials shop at a grocery store at least once a week, compared to 77 percent of total c-store shoppers.

When it comes to supercenters such as Walmart and Target, however, Millennials who shop at c-stores shop the supercenter channel more often than the total base -- perhaps because like c-stores, supercenters offer a way to multitask and indulge impulse buyers.

Despite the stereotypes that Millennials are impulsive, have short attention spans and aren't brand-loyal consumers, more than six in 10 typically go to the same convenience store each time they shop. This is almost identical to total respondents, at 63 percent.

For more insights from CSNews' exclusive Realities of the Aisle study, look for the Convenience Store News Consumer Insights Special Edition that will accompany the April issue.