By Erin Del Conte, Senior Editor
The Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council (CCRRC) began in 1978 and has been working to create practical responses to challenges experienced by the grocery industry and its operators through research. The CCRRC is composed of 18 executives representing a variety of retailers ranging from small independent operators to some of the biggest chains in the U.S. They oversee research initiatives conducted by independent third parties on issues of strategic importance to grocers. The ultimate aim of the North America Council is to generate ideas and solutions by retailers, that will help other retailers. Currently, CCRC is researching consumers’ mealtime decisions, with the report expected to be released this coming fall. Convenience Store Decisions (CSD) caught up with Michael Sansolo, the research director of the Coca-Cola Retailing Research Councils of both North and Latin America, to find out more.
Convenience Store Decisions (CSD): Tell me more about what CCRRC is and its purpose.
Michael Sansolo (MS): The Coca-Cola Retailing Research Council is driven by its retail members who select and oversee projects with the goal being research by retailers for other retailers. The members of the council, who serve four-year terms, select topics and then a research partner to run that project. Since the councils first began in the late 1970s, they have taken place globally on a wide range of important topics.
CSD: CCRRC is working on a study, with plans to publish a report this fall. What is the topic of the project you are currently working on?
MS: The current council, which last year completed a report on employee engagement, now is looking at understanding the real drivers of consumer mealtime decisions in hopes of better understanding how convenience stores can compete and win that business. The key is to get beyond simple statistics and to better understand the mindsets that drive consumers’ opinions about the c-store as a mealtime option vs all competition.
CSD: What are you finding so far or what are you hoping to discover?
MS: As the research work is just beginning, there is nothing to report so far. But the hope is to understand what drives decisions—both logical and illogical—so c-stores can better understand the real drivers of these decisions.
CSD: Why did the Council decide now was the time to study this topic? Why are meal solutions important for convenience store retailers?
MS: As shoppers and competition continue to change, the realities of c-store success are shifting. The council discussed the importance of this study as recognizing the potential sales growth in meals and in hopes of helping operators better position themselves to win over this business.
CSD: What do you hope the study will do for the c-store industry?
MS: The goal of these studies is always quite direct. The council hopes to both help the industry better understand a problem or opportunity and also to provide useful information that operators of all sizes could use to better address the situation in their companies. Hopefully this specific study will help c-store operators understand the key messages that will help current customers see the c-store as a better choice for mealtime needs and help new customers recognize the wider offerings found in c-stores today.
All past reports can be downloaded freely at www.ccrrc.org.