Convenience Store Decisions gave me a call, and wanted to speak about some of the trends impacting the industry.
The intervivew was a piece of cake — I do a lot of keynotes in the retail space. And just last year, a leader in “forecourt marketing” (which is industry speak for c-store marketing…), featured me as the keynote speaker at their Digital Forecourt Marketing Summit
Here’s the extract of my observations from the article. (Small error in the article though – I’m not based in Dallas, but Toronto!)
Shift in Consumer Demands
Dallas-based futurist Jim Carroll sees healthier foods becoming a more fundamental offering at more convenience store down the road. “You wouldn’t think it, but there is a very seismic change going on in terms of what the stores are selling,” he said. “I think they’re realizing that what people are consuming—fried foods and fatty snacks—is changing. People are much more conscious of their food consumption.”
This is a trend that Carroll has been hearing about personally—directly from c-store operators. “Wellness—focusing on nutrition and an active lifestyle—is certainly a trend,” he said. “You think about the number of convenience stores that have undertaken a shift to fresh food. The focus is not on Doritos and Twinkies. Sure, some operators do focus on these items, but your industry leaders and top quartile chains are embracing change.”
Retailers, Carroll said, are trying to get away from the traditional popping chips paradigm. “If you play into the sort of ‘life to go’ issue and recognize that people want to get in and get a healthy meal quickly, why not have those items at the ready in convenience and gas stations? Even 7-Elevens now are selling sushi.”
Promotions, too, will gain impact, Carroll predicted. “It won’t be too long before I am able to fill up my car while my iPhone is communicating with the c-store,” he said. “By the time I walk into the store an LCD TV panel up on the wall is going to recognize me and greet me with a customized commercial.”
Once the store recognizes a particular customer there are endless possibilities to upsell merchandise via text messages and electronic coupons. The constant in the equation is change.
“I see c-stores undergoing relentless change in terms of what they do,” said Carroll, “because I think consumers change so quickly. That’s a major part of what’s going on—a very fast format shift. There is a South African chain that is converting its entire c-store strategy over to fresh food—a complete format shift, because even over there they are seeing that same kind of demand for fresh food served fast.”