Convenience store retailers can rest easy when it comes to evaluating the long-term prospects of their foodservice customers. Not only is the number of c-store shoppers who don’t purchase prepared food a minority, but those who do buy it tend to make a habit of doing so.
According to the findings of the 2019 Convenience Store News Realities of the Aisle U.S.-based consumer study, 69% of c-store shoppers surveyed said they purchased prepared food within the last month, compared to just 31% who said they did not make such a purchase.
Among those who did not purchase, their chief reasons why were: they didn’t plan to do so (44%) or they prefer not to buy prepared food at c-stores (44%), which indicates that convenience store retailers can still do more to demonstrate they have an enticing offering. Millennials and members of Generation X, as well as health-conscious shoppers, are more likely to point to unappetizing food as a reason for not purchasing.
Younger generations, though, are also more likely to make multiple c-store prepared food purchases in a given month, with Generation Z leading the way with an average of 4.07 purchases per month, followed by Millennials (3.78 purchases) and Generation X (3.65 purchases). That’s compared to an average of 2.67 purchases per month made by Baby Boomers.
Shoppers are also generally happy with what they receive, as two-thirds said they were “extremely” or “very” satisfied with their most recent prepared food purchase, while only 3% were not satisfied. Additionally, 70% of those who identify themselves as health-conscious were extremely or very satisfied, compared to 60% of non-health-conscious shoppers.
Sandwiches/deli are the most popular prepared food items at c-stores (29% of surveyed shoppers purchased in the past month), followed by pizza, breakfast sandwiches and hot dogs, all at 24%, and fresh-baked goods at 20%.
Fresh-made items continue to gain ground on products held in refrigerated cases. When considering all their prepared food purchases made in the last month, 41% of surveyed shoppers said they bought only made-to-order items, 32% bought only grab-and-go products, and 28% bought a combination of both. The generation most likely to exclusively purchase made-to-order food is baby boomers, with 48% saying they did so.
Notably, despite the fact that only 41% report having bought made-to-order food in the last month, 54% of all c-store prepared food shoppers say they prefer made-to-order over other options, while 27% prefer grab-and-go and 19% say they have no preference.
The most important factors for shoppers when purchasing prepared food at convenience stores are price and food quality, cited by 62% and 49%, respectively. Taste (cited by 42%), freshness (38%) and convenience/on-the-go (34%) round out the top five considerations. Additionally, women are more likely to rate sanitation as being highly important compared to men (32% vs. 22%).
Originally published at Convenience Store News.