What is considered a ‘must stock’ in one c-store might be a luxury in another, but is the crucial essential ‘knowing your customers’?
THE nature and role of the c-store in Scotland is constantly changing as shoppers look for more and different products.
The growth of food to go, for example, demonstrates how smart retailers are adapting to meet shopper demands and making the most of new opportunities.
Staying abreast of these changing demands means understanding why each shopper has come into the store.
Tom Hazelden of Unilever’s Partners for Growth advice service said: “Your customers are on a mission, so don’t make it mission impossible.
“The key to satisfying customers and maximising sales is fulfilling the reason they come into the store quickly and easily.”
This generation feel they are ahead of the industry for innovation, store formats and technology.
That quick and easy demand is also reflected in a new report from research and training charity IGD into the shopping habits of 18 to 25 year-olds.
Calling those born between 1992 and 1999 ‘post-millenials’, the report says time and convenience are the key issues that retailers can address to meet changing shopper needs.
Shopper insight manager Michael Freedman said that when it comes to saving time, 54% of this age group sometimes go to the nearest store even if it is more expensive, compared to 40% of those aged over 25.
And 52% of 18 to 25s, he said, claim they sometimes spend a bit more for easier to cook or prepare products, compared to 42% of those aged 26 or more.
He said: “This generation feel like they are ahead of the industry where innovation, store formats and technology are concerned and manufacturers and retailers are running to keep up with them.”
The headline findings of the research are that, among this young shopper age group:
• 77% save time by using self-checkouts.
• 69% save time by buying prepared food in jars, tins, packets or cartons.
• 67% save time by shopping in smaller convenience stores.
• 64% save time by buying food to go.
• 61% save time by buying pre-prepared meals or instant products.
• 56% save time by buying pre-cut products, such as vegetables or fruit.
These results are also reflected in recent changes to the basket of goods used to calculate the rate of consumer price inflation in the UK.
According to the Office for National Statistics, the contents of the basket changes to make sure the measures are up to date and representative of consumer spending patterns.
New items added in 2016 include microwave rice pouches and trays, multi-packs of meat-based snacks, cooked slice of turkey, fresh lemons, coffee pods and cream liqueurs.
Explaining the addition of coffee pods, the ONS described it as a ‘distinct and growing’ product. It said microwave rice had been introduced to represent a type of prepared food not already covered and reflects trends towards prepared foods.
It could be said that the message from all of this research is that what is essential in any store is meeting the shoppers’ needs.
Partners for Growth says this demands focusing on shopper missions and has identified the most popular missions as: top up, food for now such as sandwiches, drinks and crisps, need it now items, newsagent, including newspapers and cigarettes, and meal for tonight.
Tom Hazelden added: “A retailer needs to make the store talk the dominant mission. For example, if the store is in a busy worker area, the retailer should allocate maximum range and space to food for now and meal for tonight.”