The convenience channel was the only channel to experience both dollar sales and unit growth in 2012, according to the IRI report, "Convenience Stores: Keep the Core; Appeal to More."
The channel is experiencing above-average growth due in part to an increase in the number of stores and a business model tailored to the needs of on-the-go consumers. In fact, in 2012 convenience stores overall posted 1.2 percent unit sales growth and dollar sales growth of 2.4 percent, according to the May 2013 edition of IRI's Times & Trends.
Success in the convenience store arena is not without challenges, however. Because many stores sell fuel and sales are somewhat tied to those purchases, if gas prices spike, consumers have less money to spend on additional purchases.
Convenience store sales also are concentrated in a limited number of categories. For example, of the six largest convenience categories, three are related to tobacco.
Competition from other channels, namely drug and dollar stores, is intense. These channels share many of the same attributes as convenience stores, including size, location and some similarities in product mix.
To continue to generate healthy growth in the coming months and years, convenience store marketers must stay on their toes and cater to evolving trends.
The foodservice segment is currently experiencing strong growth within convenience stores. Prepared food is designed to appeal to on-the-go shoppers and should be used to elevate the perception of convenience stores as destinations for convenient and healthy meal and snack solutions.
Health and wellness is another key opportunity for convenience store marketers. To excel in this area, marketers must cultivate an overarching promise of health and wellness for their consumers, with special attention to the specific perspectives and goals of their core shopper base at the store level.
And, outdoor advertising remains a key to maximizing fuel-up visits by acting as a tool to lure shoppers into the store.
TIP:Identify opportunities to develop new offerings that solve the key needs and wants of target consumer segments.
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