The industry experienced changes last year that have been unprecedented. Nielsen estimated growth for the convenience channel of around 1.5 percent in 2018 which will be driven by fresh food and food to go offerings. The biggest influencers on shoppers behavior, according to Nielsen, will be lifestyle, the "little and often" trend, technology, and location. These behaviors will be drivers for c-store and convenience services.
The younger generation is driving this trend with increased visits to convenient locations, as they focus on purchases for what they need for shorter periods of time. Another important role convenient retail provides the consumer is saving time. An instance where the consumer can shop more flexibly will create greater footfall.
Consumers shop at c-stores for meals in the short-term, next-three-days type of mentality. The frequency of visits and small basket purchases will likely be a key driver of growth for retailers, and with 77 percent of shoppers looking for promotions, this is an easy way for retailers to encourage extra item in the basket behaviors. The use of space can also be helpful for driving behaviors, according to Nielsen. The use of off-shelf space has been particularly helpful and a driver of growth for healthier snacking categories, Nielsen has found through analysis, as well as using off-shelf space both flexibly and for categories that meet consumer needs such as pretzels and crackers.
Contactless payment, self-checkout and mobile payments entice shoppers with quick and speedy service. Technology encourages consumers to shop easily and buy often.
A c-store or any convenience services establishment needs to be in an accessible location. For c-stores, this also includes having convenient parking and good transport links. Focusing on shoppers' needs with regard to location is crucial for capitalizing on the important food to go category. It enables shoppers quick and convenient service and flexible needs.