Convenience store managers should think of the cold vault like it’s the Super Bowl. It’s a highly competitive event for c-store operations, and execution is crucial to sales.
The good news is that c-store beverage non-alcoholic beverage sales grew 6.4 percent in the first quarter of this year, while alcoholic beverage sales saw a 5.5-percent uptick, according to the latest Wells Fargo Securities LLC Beverage Buzz survey. Lower gas prices have certainly prompted consumers to upgrade their beverages, and one retailer predicts that 2015 will be a banner year for the beverage industry.
The participations of this competition are the younger generation of Millennials. This consumer group is driving c-store food and beverages sales, and beverage category managers like BP America’s Ed Hobson are following trends closely.
What’s hot in BP’s ampm stores among Millennials:
- Craft beer sales (20 percent growth this year)
- New flavors and product innovation (especially for the energy drink sub-category)
- Seasonal offerings
- Natural flavors
- Carbonated soft drinks – sales remain flat in light of health concerns
- Artificial ingredients
The Importance of Tracking Competitor Promotions
Technology is changing how convenience store retailers respond to their competitors in real time. Perhaps your competitor is offering a buy 2-for-1 on a proprietary product, or maybe they’re highlighting a vendor promotion at the forecourt. Since you’re not privy to their sales data, it’s important to conduct site visits and gather data on what’s visible to the eye in terms of promotions.
Also, remember to account for channel blurring. When ampm conducted their own shopper surveys, they found that shoppers didn’t realize that ampm’s pricing on energy drinks was better than grocery-store pricing. In response, the c-store retailer changed its outdoor signage to promote its price on energy drinks.
The retailer also responds when products aren’t selling. “We have to be very selective on what we bring in. If something is slow-moving, it’s out,” Hobson told CSP. He says managing the limited space in the c-store requires greater vigilance.
Real-time data collected with mobile technology can help retailers achieve greater vigilance and ultimately “stick the landing” in sales.