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Saturday, February 11, 2012

48% of convenience store/gas station customers don’t make it into the store

Observation:   According to a story published this week by Convenience Store News, only about 52% of convenience store/gas stations actually make it into the store for a purchase beyond fuel.  Of that group, about one in four purchases a soft drink.  (Click here to see the story.)

Implications:  The C-Store business has done a fairly good job of taking food dollars from quick service restaurants over the past few years, but this report suggests there is still room for improvement and growth. 

What kinds of things compel a person to walk into the store instead of climbing back into their car after paying at the pump?  Point-of-purchase stickers or video ads played at the pump?  Covering the store structure with posters about cheap corn dogs or ice cream tickets?  How about coupons mailed (or emailed) to commuters that live in the store’s neighborhood?  This is not just a question for the C-Store… but one that anyone who sells lottery tickets or beverages would love to answer.  (And I bet a little research on your customers would provide great clues.)

If you’re in the fast food business, how do you re-take some of the food dollars that the C-Store industry nabbed during the recession?  Dare I say “ambience?”  Freshness?   (There’s a good chance that “cheap” alone won’t do the trick.)

Mike Anderson, for the Elm Street Economics consumer trends blog. A service of The Center for Sales Strategy, Inc.

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