ATLANTA — Changing demographics, advancing technology and a bifurcated economy are factors that will shape the future of foodservice for convenience stores and other food providers by the year 2025.
“Food is a lifestyle choice now, not a staple,” Clint McKinney, group director of category advisory, convenience retail for Coca-Cola North America, said during a 2016 NACS Show educational session focused on consumer trends in foodservice.
McKinney noted there are 160 food programs on television today and 40 percent of millennials describe themselves as “foodies.” This consumer mindset is impacting foodservice.
Today’s consumer values wellness, transparency and convenience. “They are redefining their ideas of holistic health, and they believe in enhancing life through new experiences and flavors,” he told showgoers.
McKinney spoke about six keys to satisfying these new consumers:
1. Value Plus. This pertains to delivering value (such as meal bundling), but with an extra surprise (like offering a new topping or flavor).
2. Evolution of Healthy. Bringing simple ingredients, more fresh food and transparency of where it comes from; what millennials call “clean eating.”
3. Flexibility & Discovery. This is about expanding meal occasions such as taking advantage of the growth in snacking, and creating new choices for customers like a c-store mashup. “How about nacho cheese churros?” he suggested.
4. Hyper Convenience. C-stores own this, but others are trying to compete here. Look for on-demand delivery and greater importance of off-premise occasions, such as takeout and drive-thrus.
5. Digitization. This is about “out-of-outlet” engagement. Retailers will need to leverage the power of social media to build visits and brands. They need to make their outreach “share-worthy.”
6. Brand Authority. Retailers will need to upgrade the experience for tomorrow’s customers. Millennials place greater importance on eating in a cool, hip setting. “Also, you must have a clear identity and brand story, and you must communicate it in a clear way,” he said.
The 2016 NACS Show, hosted by NACS, the Association for Convenience & Fuel Retailing, continues at Atlanta's Georgia World Congress Center through Oct. 21.