Convenience Lags in Digital Connections

MINNEAPOLIS -- Consumers actively turn to digital media for retailer information. However, convenience stores are falling behind other channels when it comes to hooking up.

This finding came from a new General Mills Convenience & Foodservice survey that sought to identify ways convenience retailers can use digital media to build stronger relationships with shoppers. The survey polled 360 c-store shoppers, aged 18-64, in December.

According to the results, 86 percent of shoppers said they receive texts, alerts, emails or deals from a variety of retailers (including mass merchandisers, convenience stores, drugstores and others), yet only 41 percent of shoppers connect digitally -- through website visits, texts, emails or apps -- with convenience stores. 

Specifically, the survey found:

  • 30 percent of shoppers reported visiting a convenience store website, while 58 percent reported visiting a fast-food restaurant website.
  • 24 percent of shoppers received emails from a convenience store, while 44 percent reported receiving emails from a drugstore.
  • 13 percent of shoppers receive texts from convenience stores, while 20 percent of shoppers receive texts from fast-food restaurants.
  • 16 percent use an app from a convenience store, while 20 percent use an app from a coffee shop.

The top five reasons cited by shoppers for connecting with a convenience store were coupons (67 percent), finding out about sales and special deals (62 percent), updates on new products or offerings (55 percent), seeing what products are offered (48 percent), and locating the nearest store (47 percent).

In addition, shoppers are most interested in traditional c-store items such as gas, hot beverages, fountain drinks and fresh bakery items, according to Minneapolis-based General Mills.

"Using digital channels to connect with convenience store shoppers can help build loyalty and drive traffic," said Chris Quam, consumer insights manager at General Mills Convenience & Foodservice.  "Convenience store shoppers receive information from other types of retailers, so they should be open to connecting with convenience stores as well. Relevant deals and news about cool products are key ways to break through."

Quam added that telling shoppers about the programs "is fundamental for awareness, and actively marketing the program is a critical step in building participation. Simply developing a great app or email program is not enough to get noticed or used."

General Mills Convenience & Foodservice is a division that serves the convenience, foodservice and bakery industries. Its brand portfolio includes Big G Cereals, Yoplait, Nature Valley, Gold Medal, Pillsbury, Chex Mix, Bugles and Gardetto's. 

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