- Shoppers have shown increasingly high expectations for c-stores in categories like affordability and customer experience over the last three years, according to the 2022 NACS Convenience Voices survey.
- While about two thirds of respondents said location is their biggest factor in picking a convenience store to shop at — about the same as in 2019 — the number of people looking for discounts, loyalty rewards and other financial incentives grew by about 60% from four years ago.
- Gas prices was one of the most important cost considerations reported in the survey, with around 56% of respondents calling it a top priority, while 52% said the same for the loyalty discounts and offers.
While c-stores seek ways to get more people into their loyalty programs, NACS’ survey suggests that the best lure could be simply good rewards — and letting customers know about those rewards.
“More than one out of two shoppers (57.5%) were members of a convenience loyalty program in 2022, and they want an integrated loyalty program with exclusive, relevant rewards,” Leroy Kelsey, director of research for NACS, said in the report. “They want to feel understood and appreciated.”
The survey also found that while Gen Z is more likely to stop at a c-store to treat themselves, they’re far less likely to engage with the retailer’s loyalty program. Less than half of the Gen Z shoppers surveyed were members of at least one c-store rewards program, as opposed to 58% of millennials and over 60% of Generation X and Baby Boomer respondents.
“This up-and-coming generation is the first generation to have 24/7 access to the web and social media since birth, and this is reflected in their preference for social media as a platform to interact with convenience loyalty,” Kelsey said. “Gen Z prefers gamification, sweepstakes and the ability to leverage technology to have products delivered or pay for them digitally in person.”
Low overall prices and good sales were among the top-five cost-related reasons to pick a store as well.
That price sensitivity also drives a number of customer decisions once they’re on site as well. The survey found that the number of people making purchasing decisions once they were in the store, instead of planning ahead of time, had more than doubled from 2019.
“This tells us that shoppers are looking for value and buying bigger baskets, consolidating trips and coming less often,” said Kelsey. “They are looking for deals and can be compelled to purchase unintended items with thoughtful promotion.”
Other in-store aspects that affected the respondents’ likelihood of visiting particular c-stores included having a well-stocked store where it’s easy to find what they’re looking for and where there’s a variety of options. While less important, 34% also cited quality prepared food and 28% looked for good coffee.
The survey was conducted July 10 through Sept. 10 of 2022 using NACS’ proprietary syndicated mobile shopper insights program.