Convenience stores have certainly upped their foodservice game over the past decade, and consumers have taken notice. According to Datassential’s recent “C-Store Foodservice Keynote Report,” a third of consumers reported that they have increased their food purchases at c-stores in the past two years, while nearly 40% said the same thing about beverages. Overall, 62% of consumers said they are satisfied or extremely satisfied with c-store foodservice, a 12% increase from 2019.
So, where are the opportunities when it comes to c-store foodservice? We also asked consumers which foods or trends they wanted to see at their local c-store and then compared that data to the number of c-stores that offer the option. Here were the biggest gaps:
Frozen Yogurt & Hand-Scooped Ice Cream
Over half, or 51%, of consumers said they want to see c-stores offer frozen yogurt or hand-scooped ice cream at their local operator, but only 6% of c-stores offer the option — a 45% gap. In fact, ice cream is America’s second-favorite food after fruit, with 91% of consumers saying they love or like it — it’s a no-brainer on menus.
Locally Sourced Produce & Meat
Locally sourced produce and meat options are similarly rare at c-stores, with only 6% offering them, but 46% of consumers interested in seeing them at c-stores. If you have locally sourced ingredients on the menu, call them out as often as possible: in menu descriptions, signage, digital ordering platforms, etc.
Customizable Burritos & Tacos
Customizable burritos and tacos score highly with consumers, with over half of consumers wanting to see them at c-stores, but only 14% of operators offering them. Consumers love customization, even if it’s only having the option of customization, and they choose the pre-built menu options anyway. Why? For the c-store consumer, customization signals that the food is fresh and handcrafted. Customizable in-store sub shops and pizzas also scored well with consumers.
Store-Made Barbecue & Smoked Meats
While it’s certainly more labor intensive, consumers love store-made or store-smoked barbecue, with 45% saying they would like to see it at c-stores, while only 10% of c-stores offer it. Luckily, these options can also do double duty on other platforms, such as sandwiches, wraps, flatbreads and salads.
Cold-Pressed Juices / Juice Bars
When it comes to drinks, health-driven cold-pressed juices and juice bars showcased the biggest gap between consumer wants and what c-stores offer, with 40% of consumers wanting them, but only 4% of c-stores offering them. A large percentage of consumers also said they want to see cold-brew coffee at c-stores, which is more commonly found in the segment but can be an area of opportunity, if you don’t already have it on the menu.
With nearly half of c-store operators reporting they will either expand or greatly expand their prepared food and beverage offerings in the future, competition is only going to get more intense. As you consider your own menu offerings and expansions, incorporate these data-backed options that score highly with consumers.
Mike Kostyo is the resident trendologist and senior managing editor at Datassential, a market research company that helps food & beverage companies of all sizes and segments innovate, sell and plan for the future, backed by the best data in the industry. He can be reached at [email protected].