There’s a lot of talk about “dayparts” in the convenience world. But what does the term mean, and what do retailers need to know about them?
Dayparts refer to times of day or meal times — traditionally, these are breakfast, lunch and dinner.
C-stores historically do well with the breakfast daypart, as many consumers make a habit of grabbing a coffee and a doughnut or a breakfast sandwich on the way to work.
The pandemic caused the morning daypart to dip, as fewer people were commuting to work. Market research firm Statista’s “Consumer Market Outlook Hot Drinks Report 2020” estimated that revenues last year in hot dispensed beverage declined 18% compared to pre-COVID projections.
But c-stores are quickly recapturing those sales as more and more workers emerge from quarantine and return to the office.
In its “Consumer Foodservice 2020/Fresh Food 2021” report, research firm Euromonitor International forecasted that U.S. retail sales of bakery products in limited-service restaurants and bakery shops offering dough-based items for immediate consumption will grow 2.6% between 2019 and 2024 at a compound annual growth rate of 0.5%.
The lunch daypart also provides ample opportunity for c-stores, as many consumers look for a grab-and-go options during a limited lunch break. C-store favorites like prepackaged sandwiches and roller grill items make for quick and easy lunchtime options.
Plus, new technology like online and mobile ordering can attract busy lunchtime customers and keep them moving.
The Dinner Daypart
The dinner daypart can be a challenge for the convenience channel. Still, many c-store chains are seeing success with new strategies.
One way to capture this daypart is by adding more meal options, or family meal deals, so customers have an easy and convenient way to bring dinner home for the family after work.
Of course, another way is by adding new technology, like online and mobile ordering, so consumers can pre-order a hot meal to pick up on the way home. Delivery — either through proprietary or third-party programs — is a great opportunity for c-stores to gain new customers who may be browsing their favorite delivery app in the evenings more frequently than ever before.
Pizza is a prime example of a super-popular c-store dinner offer that’s takeout and delivery-friendly.
Almost half of pizza restaurant consumers (45%) polled for market research firm Mintel’s report “Pizza Restaurants: Incl Impact of COVID-19 US, September 2020” said they prefer pizza over other restaurant foods during the COVID-19 pandemic. Those cravings are driven at least partially by nostalgia for better times.
“COVID-19 brought sudden gains to the modestly growing pizza category in 2020,” noted the report. “These gains are likely to have residual staying power over the next year as consumers rely on affordable and convenient meal solutions during a recession.”
Mintel’s report further suggested that retailers “reinforce the value equations” with topping-loaded pies, bundling deals and a variety of experiences that “allow consumers to see that they are getting the most bang for their buck.”
Mintel also noted the majority of young consumers, particularly Gen Zers and millennials, agree restaurants should offer new pizza options during the pandemic to keep the menu exciting.