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Fast Food Has Got Another Competition—Convenience Stores

Restaurateurs ought to look beyond their seemingly predictable nearby competitors—convenience stores are up for battle, too.

In one of Technomic’s reports last month, they conveyed how convenience stores pursue their reach on busy consumers by continuing to offer them a wider range of snacks and meal options. The research firm’s latest study found out that consumers continue to take advantage of these choices that are given by convenience stores, a lot of times competing with the food offerings prepared by the quick service restaurants’ chefs in smart chefs clothing. When respondents were surveyed about their recent purchases at a convenience store, 27% said that if they didn’t see the quick-meal on display at the store, they would have gone to a fast-food restaurant to buy it.

“The consideration sets (what customers evaluate when making a purchase decision) of convenience stores are apparently slowly falling into the same line as that of fast-food restaurants,” said Tim Powell, director of Technomic. “This clearly displays a significant evolution of customer behavior as well as the expanding foodservice offerings of convenience stores. In our poll of over 3,700 convenience store consumers, 82% said they buy prepared foods from these general stores on a monthly basis, sometimes more; whereas 52% do, on a weekly basis,” he added.

Other results of the study include:

• 27% (more than 1 for every 4 consumers) said they bought an afternoon snack when they had their last visit; and 19% purchased lunch. 23% said they only purchased a beverage.

• Most convenience-store food purchases are based on impulse buying. 31% said that their main motivation for buying the food was the craving that was triggered when they saw the food item on display.

And now we reiterate our first statement: restaurateurs ought to look beyond their seemingly predictable nearby competitors, as their competition is not limited to other restaurants alone. Comparing yourself only with other restaurants might lull you into a fake sense of security. This does not apply to everyone, of course, but those who offer convenience and accessibility to their customers could very well benefit if they check out their nearest c-stores, too.

Your sandwiches may be the best tasting in town, and the nearest competition might be some distant kilometers away, but check out your next-door convenience store. How do the tacos prepared by your chefs in outstanding chefs clothing compare to those that the store is offering? Your smoothies might be the biggest blockbuster in town for a while, but when sales went slow, were you able to check what the c-store has? Do your customers really think that your food is a better value than those that convenience stores offer? Making an effort to know the answers to these questions might create a pivotal effect on your restaurant’s performance.