Think back to ten years ago, when Convenience Store foodservice was an idea that many would scoff at. Who would ever consider purchasing food from a gas station as a viable solution for lunch? Fast forward to today and convenience store foodservice is one of the fastest growing segments of the c-store industry.
Foodservice accounted for 21% of in-store sales in 2016 and over 33% of in-store gross-profit dollars, according to the CSP 2016 State of the Industry Report. So what’s the secret to a successful foodservice program? Today we’ll look at three trends influencing the industry, as identified by CSNews, and how you can leverage them to increase your c-store foodservice sales.
FRESH as a Daisy
One of the biggest barriers to foodservice acceptance at c-stores, was the notion that nothing could be fresh made. And while some people still associate c-store food with old hotdogs rotating on a roller grill and microwavable burritos, this stigma is quickly vanishing.
Consumers care what’s in their food today – they want to know when it was made, how it was prepared and what ingredients they’re about to eat. Enter the fresh trend. Fresh made, fresh ingredients, fresh foods. These are the descriptive terms your foodservice plan needs to conjure.
To capitalize on the fresh focused trend, you should be offering both fresh foods like fruit and baked goods, as well as fresh prepared foods, like sandwiches, pizza and chicken. You’ll also want to make sure you market these items in a way that reinforces the fresh theme. Buzz words like fresh made, locally sourced, made-to-order, can all help to position your food offerings in a way that is more appealing to your customers.
HEALTHY as a Horse
It’s no secret that health has been a growing concern of consumers for the last decade. With folks becoming more aware of the effects certain foods have on their health, it’s becoming increasingly important to include healthy options in your food lineup. Whether it’s a customer stopping in to grab a water before a gym session or someone just looking to lose a pound or two - you want to be able to provide them with options.
For the healthy side of things, don’t just think about obvious choices like salad and fruit. Think about clean foods, snacks with fewer than four ingredients, and healthy alternatives to your fan favorites. You can easily make a chicken sandwich healthier when you switch from fried to baked, mayonnaise to avocado, and a white roll to a wrap.
Again, you want to make sure you position these options on your menu and throughout your store to promote that you’ve taken a step in a healthy direction. Try promoting healthy snacks near your water cooler or over by the sports drinks!
A QUICK Fix
Since we’re talking about the convenience industry, it may seem superfluous to list quick as a target trend. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, consumers want things faster than ever. People don’t have time to wait for their pizza to cook, they want it ready NOW. With that in mind we have to put a focus on quickness.
The good news is that as a convenience store, you will be inherently viewed as a quick stop. But with competition growning both from nearby c-stores and QSRs looking to take back some of the foodservice marketshare, you'll need to position your business as an faster than ever before.
To take advantage of this trend, think about the ways you can reduce your customer’s time spent getting food. From high speed ovens, fast cooking fryers, grab and go solutions, and easy check out kiosks, there are a multitude of ways to be perceived as a quick option for consumers. Don't forget to market your services as being fast too - it does no good to be fast if no one knows about it!