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A competitive edge

Ipsos Canada identifies 5 trends to inspire and elevate your foodservice game in 2024.
Cheerful waitress wearing apron serving customer at counter in restaurant - Small business and service concept with young woman owner offering recycled paper bag with take away food to online client

Foodservice sales share in convenience stores increased 16% in 2023 versus the abysmal and prolonged period of lockdown in Canada according to the Ipsos Foodservice Monitor (‘FSM’).

Elevated offerings and an expanding shelf set that goes beyond typical gas station fare to meet evolving consumers preferences is key to capturing a bigger share of shoppers’ wallets.

As the C&G channel looks for growth in the highly competitive away-from-home dining arena fraught with inflationary pressures, it is critical to capitalize on current foodservice trends to exceed expectations and win in those quick, convenient and often on-the-go dining moments.

When the goal is to deliver exceptional convenience, quality and value to Canadians, consider the following trends:

1.  Meet value demands

While there are several components to creating a solid value proposition, consideration should be given to the creation of a value menu tier. Ipsos FSM reports that 14% of foodservice customers cite that menus with value options are critical.  In this environment, it is also imperative to incentivize repeat visits and customer loyalty through BOGO offers, promotions, discounts and branded loyalty programs.

2.  Easy feel-good kits and packs

Continue to change channel perceptions and diversify the assortment of grab-and-go items with a focus on fresh. Consider pre-packaged salads, sandwiches, wraps, fresh fruit cups and veggie packs with large signage to highlight packaging dates and origin of products that will differentiate your C&G food offerings from fast-food competitors. Local sourcing cues are the top label of importance cited by consumers on food and beverage package goods.

With over a third of occasions in an average day motivated by the need for something healthy and nutritious, it is critical to meet quality, freshness and variety expectations of health-conscious and time-pressed consumers.

3.  Technology-enabled convenience

The continued emergency of micro-market formats like Amazon Go have disrupted traditional retail by offering a highly convenient and tech-driven shopping experience. The rising trendiness of frictionless shopping experience reflects the changing expectations of consumers, who increasingly value convenience, efficiency, and technology-driven solutions in their shopping experiences. As technology continues to evolve, it is likely that digital solutions will continue to evolve and expand in response to Millennial and Gen Z tech-savvy demands.

4.  C&G supports local

Product provenance, environmental concerns and social governance around animal welfare, fair wages and climate change are all contributing to our rising social consciousness.  At the top of Canadians’ priorities are lending support to community businesses through local purchasing practices (+17% vs. 2020). 

Consider collaborations with local restaurants or chefs to offer unique and exclusive food items targeted for pick-up or delivery. This can create excitement and draw in customers looking for unique lunch or dinner fare.

5.  Treat me…please!

Visiting a C&G store to treat yourself can be a simple yet very enjoyable experience, whether you are on your daily commute, taking a road trip break, in need of a personal indulgence or rewarding your loved ones. 

Chocolate, potato chips, candy, popcorn and nuts top craveable options purchased at C&G outlets.  Beverages, either paired for refreshment or alone for comfort or hydration are also mainstay favourites. The top beverages include coffee, carbonated soft drinks, juice flat or sparkling water or a delectable slushie treat.

Beyond staying attuned to market trends to optimize your store shelf set, winning in the foodservice segment at C&G requires a focused customer-centric approach.  Successful management, strong employee team and optimization of adaptability assets are essential to growth within this competitive landscape.

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