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It’s not just about fuel anymore—c-stores bring more to the table

Derrick Cline | Oct 9, 2018 Derrick Cline 10/09/18

Gas stations of the past had a bit of a stigma. They were a pit stop—a place to fuel up, buy a lottery ticket, and use the restroom (if you dared). If you were hungry, options were pretty limited to prepackaged items like beef jerky or a bag of chips—so if you wanted something more substantial, it usually required another stop at the closest fast food joint.

But times have changed.

Today’s convenience stores (c-stores) are becoming food + beverage destinations—and it’s paying off. Customers are gobbling up their gourmet pizzas, signature sandwiches, fresh salads, and made-to-order lattes. In fact, almost half of c-store customers are making a food or beverage purchase during their visits (and that doesn’t include those prepackaged items we previously mentioned).

With 4 c-store brands on the 2018 Nation’s Restaurant News list of the top 100 restaurants, it’s clear there’s been a shift. C-stores have upped their food + beverage game, and other industries—particularly quick service restaurants (QSRs)—are beginning to feel the heat.

To better understand this major disruption and what it means for the future of c-stores and the food + beverage industry, we turned to our market intelligence tool BrandGeek®—the fastest, most accurate source of behavioral data linked to customer feedback in real time. With more than 120,000 responses from c-store and QSR customers, we discovered a lot. Here are some highlights:

  1. C-stores have a broad spectrum of food + beverage customers—ranging in age, gender, and income
  2. Customers are more satisfied with food + beverage purchases from c-stores than those from QSRs
  3. C-stores are providing a positive experience that keeps customers coming back—at a quicker return rate than QSR customers

And this is just a little taste of what we uncovered. In order to really get into the meat of things, we’ll be posting a series of blogs on this subject over the next few months. We’ll get into the evolution of the c-store customer, how c-stores are gaining visit share from QSRs with food + beverage customers, and what the future holds.   

In the meantime, check out our report—3 questions answered: How c-stores are disrupting the food + beverage industry.


Derrick Cline | Consumer Insights Manager